Wondering what to do when someone dies? Whether a loved one has recently passed or you’re preparing for what may come after placing a friend or relative in hospice care, your mind is likely spinning from the numerous tasks you’ll have to accomplish once they pass.
If you’ve never handled a loved one’s affairs after their passing before, you may not know how to get a death certificate. While you’ll still need to follow strict government protocols, luckily, the process has become slightly simpler in the digital age.
In this guide, we’ll describe death certificates, why you need them, the documents you’ll need to file, and how to obtain a death certificate online.
Before we teach you how to obtain a death certificate, let’s discuss a crucial question: What is a death certificate?
A death certificate—not to be confused with a pronouncement of death—is a document issued by a local authority (usually a County or State Health Department) confirming that a person has died. Death certificates vary in appearance by jurisdiction, but they usually list the following information:
Once you file for a certified death certificate and the request is completed by your local authorities, you should request certified copies of the certificate from your courthouse or vital records office. While one of these institutions will store the original certificate for safekeeping, a certified copy will allow you to prove that your loved one has passed while you manage their affairs.
Much like birth certificates and identification, you need to present the death certificate to process certain papers for the deceased.
Death certificates are vital to accomplishing items on your end of life planning checklist after a loved one dies. Who needs to see death certificates when someone dies? You’ll need one in hand to report their death to:
Most of these institutions will require you to present a certified death certificate (and also a marriage record in case the deceased’s spouse can receive benefits), your photo ID, and proof that you’re authorized to manage their affairs after their passing—like a copy of their will or a notarized letter.
While requirements differ by jurisdiction, you should gather the following documents before filing for a death certificate:
While learning how to find a death certificate, you may be wondering if you can complete the process online. GovPlus offers vital records filing and certified copy requests online in a few simple steps:
Instead of standing in line, dealing with understaffed government offices, figuring out how to fill out a death certificate request form, and taking time off of work to file a death certificate or order certified copies, GovPlus can handle all the heavy lifting while you manage your vital records request from home.
We’ll submit your documents, communicate with your jurisdiction when needed, and alert you if you need to complete any actions during the process. We can also assist you if you need to procure an additional copy to settle other matters.