Why do I need death certificates?

Before we dive into why you need death certificates, its important to clarify what it is. A death certificate is the official government document that the county or state of death produces to verify that someone has passed away and it is usually a public document.  

Death certificates are needed for a number of processes after someone passes. In order to close the deceased’s accounts, transfer custody of an account, make transactions or receive benefits from any account of the deceased, death certificates are typically required.  Examples of accounts you would need a death certificate for are insurance policies, bank accounts, loans, utilities, stock accounts, and others.

Death certificates are available to the next of kin at the county or state health department. The funeral home that is helping with arrangements can also provide the next of kin with copies of the death certificate.  Friends and extended family usually will not be able to get a death certificate from the county or state health department without a legal need.

Each county charges a fee for each copy of the death certificate.  It typically takes two or three days to prepare a death certificate because a doctor must sign the death certificate and document the cause of death.

What is guaranteed in a pre-paid funeral plan?

pre-paid funeral plans

The services guaranteed in a pre-paid funeral plan are those the funeral home writes into a pre-need insurance policy and will be paid for upon death for no additional charge.

A funeral home will sell pre-need insurance policies in order to organize and plan a funeral before the death occurs. In order to do this they write an insurance policy that will cover future expenses but give you today’s prices. For example, if you wanted a full service funeral with a silver casket and it costs $10,000 dollars in 2014 and a funeral home writes a pre-need insurance policy for that amount, when the death occurs in 2020 the funeral cost for the full service funeral with a silver casket could now be $15,000. You would not pay anymore money for that exact funeral. The funeral home is hoping that the insurance policy will gain enough interest that it grows to cover 2020’s increase in price.

The funeral home can only guarantee the services that they offer. They can not guarantee services of another business such as flower shop, monument shop (for headstones) or the price of Death Certificates. Sales Tax is also something that cannot be guaranteed. They can however write into the policy an allowance that can help pay for these types of items.

Many people will pre-pay for a few things like a burial plot and a casket and think they are done. But when the death occurs, their family often wants to have a service and a viewing and other merchandise like programs and a register book, etc. If these items are not written into the policy, they will not be guaranteed and additional charges may be added that might exceed the amount in the policy. So make sure you plan for every possibility because if there is money left over in a policy, the family of the deceased gets any money not used returned to them.