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.

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