What Is a Certified Copy of a Death Certificate and How to Get One Fast

Death Certificates What Is a Certified Copy of a Death Certificate and How to Get One Fast

What is a Certified Copy of a Death Certificate?

When a loved one dies, it can often be absolutely overwhelming. Beyond the grief and massive life changes that follow the death of a close family member, many people leave affairs that need to be taken care of behind when they pass.

A death certificate serves as an official record and proof of death and includes the:

  1. Time of death
  2. Cause of death
  3. Location of death

Whether it's transferring inherited assets or getting a company to stop billing after death, to prove that your loved one is legally deceased, you'll need certified copies of a death certificate.

What is a Death Certificate?

A death certificate is essentially the opposite of a birth certificate. It is a document that records personal information upon death that can be used to verify that a person is deceased. It records the circumstances and time of death and is extremely necessary to have when dealing with the logistics that often follow the death of a loved one.

What is the difference between a Certified Death Certificate and an Informational Death Certificate?

Like a birth certificate, death certificates must be originals produced from official agencies to be considered certified. A photocopy of a death certificate may be sufficient when the information is more important than legal proof, such as when an organization simply needs it for reference in their personnel records. To legally prove that a person is deceased, however, you'll need a certified copy from a government agency. Whether it's legally required for you to take action on the deceased person's behalf is usually what distinguishes the circumstances when you need a certified copy.

Every state or county has its own agency and process that handles applications for death certificates. In most cases, this is the same agency that handles vital statistics in your area. Once you've requested a certified copy from them, an authorized official will create one and send you a certified copy with an official government seal that indicates that it is not a reproduction and a fully legal, certified death certificate.

Certified Death Certificate CopiesCertified copies of a death certificate are certified copies that have an official stamp and a signature from a medical examiner or coroner. Depending upon your state and county requirements, these may need to be notarized. An authorized copy will typically be required in the case of legal matters, such as securing death benefits, filing a life insurance claim, transferring ownership of property, or managing financial assets on behalf of the deceased.
Informational Death Certificate CopiesInformational copies of a death certificate serve to verify the death of the individual, but cannot be used as a legal form of documentation. These types of copies are typically meant for personal records, however, when you are settling your loved one's affairs, it's worthwhile to check with each company or organization you need to contact to determine whether they need a certified copy or if an informational copy will suffice.

Why You May Need a Certified Copy of a Death Certificate

For informational reference and personal records, a non-certified copy of a death certificate will still give you the exact same information as the certified original that it was copied from. For any official business, however, you'll need the certified copy complete with a seal. There are quite a few reasons that you may potentially need as many as 10-30 certified copies after a loved one has died, including:

  • Accessing insurance benefits
  • Cashing out retirement plans and investment accounts
  • Obtaining the deceased individual's military benefits
  • Taking control of bank accounts willed to you
  • Title transfers for real estate or vehicles
  • Transporting human remains prior to a funeral or burial
  • Exert ownership over inherited stocks or bonds.

These add up, so you typically need quite a few certified death certificates to take care of all of a loved one's affairs after their passing. Some organizations like banks or employers may be happy to make their own copy of a certified one, but many will require you to actually give them a certified copy for their records.

How to Get Multiple Copies of Certified Death Certificates

The easiest way to get death certificates for a recently deceased loved one is to have the funeral services company get them for you. Most funeral homes routinely acquire death certificates to give mourning family members a break from everything to get accomplished. Make sure you ask for as many as you'll need though because they can be harder to acquire afterward.

If you didn't get enough death certificates from the funeral services organization, then you'll have to go straight to the source. In most places, you should be able to request death certificates either from the county where they died or from the vital records agency at the state level.

How Much Does a Certified Death Certificate Cost?

The cost for a certified death certificate varies depending on where you are. Depending on your state, they can cost anywhere from $6 to $25 per certified copy. Obviously, this can add up quickly if you need many of them.

What Documents Do You Need to Obtain a Certifed Copy of a Death Certificate?

Typically, you'll only need official, government-issued identification to apply for a certified death certificate. You'll also need to be an authorized representative for the deceased, which varies depending on location. Usually, immediate family members, legal guardians of deceased children, or living children of the deceased can get a certified copy, but only if they are over 18 years old.

You Don’t Have to Obtain Certified Death Certificates On Your Own

To apply for a certified death certificate, you'll likely have to navigate complex bureaucracy and confusing online applications.

In some states, you may be required to do the entire process in person or via fax machine. Often when people don't get enough death certificates from their funeral director, they feel rather overwhelmed by the entire process, but there is an easier way to get the certified death certificates that you need.

DoNotPay Can Help You Obtain Certified Death Certificates

DoNotPay is the world's first robot lawyer and can help you easily access death certificates and navigate the complexities of state regulations without costing you an arm and a leg. DoNotPay already knows the best way to obtain death records in your state quickly and easily and is ready to help you.

If you want to get a copy of a death certificate but don't know where to start, DoNotPay has you covered in 7 easy steps:

  1. Go to the Death Certificates product on DoNotPay.


  2. Enter the details of the person who is on the death certificate, and select/upload evidence that proves your relationship with them.


  3. Enter the city, state, and hospital (if applicable) the registrant passed away in, so we can complete the correct form.


  4. Indicate what you will be using this certificate for, and choose whether you need an authorized or certified copy.


  5. Enter your contact information and shipping address. Upload copies of your government-issued identification, such as a driver's license.


  6. Choose whether you would like to electronically sign this form or not. Once we generate the form, verify that all of the information is correct.


  7. If you need the document to be notarized, schedule a notarization appointment using our Notary product. Otherwise, proceed to our Mail Checks product and let DoNotPay mail-in your request form with a check on your behalf.


Why Use DoNotPay to Obtain a Certified Copy of a Death Certificate?

DoNotPay handles the complicated part of dealing with government agencies so that you can get certified death certificates more easily. The death of a loved one is already overwhelming before everything that there is to take care of. With DoNotPay you can get at least one significant task easily out of the way.

Death certificates aren't all DoNotPay handles though, and a robotic lawyer could help with many other processes that must be undertaken after the death of a loved one, like:

  • Making life insurance claims
  • Settling debts
  • Canceling subscriptions and recurring fees
  • Transferring assets or power of attorney

With DoNotPay's help, you never have to struggle through complex legal processes again or fork over a small fortune for legal help. DoNotPay gives you the power to accomplish what you need with just the push of a button.

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