How to Obtain Copies of a Certified Death Certificate

How to Obtain Copies of a Certified Death Certificate

Just as a birth certificate proves one’s birth, a death certificate is the official evidence recording a person’s death. It typically includes information about the deceased, such as name, address, location and time of death, birth date and place, education, marital status, surviving spouse (if applicable) and information about the deceased’s parents.

The executor of your estate will likely need to obtain copies of an official death certificate. To that end, as part of preparing your executor for the duties they have been entrusted with, you will need to be sure they know how and when to obtain these copies.

Death certificates are often needed for the following:

  • Collecting life insurance, Social Security or veterans’ benefits
  • Opening a proceeding in probate court
  • Collecting property with the use of a small estate affidavit
  • Transferring any property owned by joint tenancy into the name of the other surviving owner
  • Claiming assets kept in a payable-on-death bank account
  • Converting an existing IRA owned by the deceased into an inherited IRA

There are several ways to obtain official death certificate copies. The easiest is to ask a funeral director to obtain them — a commonly included service. Otherwise, one may submit a written request to the appropriate records agency in the state or county in which the person died. The county typically gets these records before the state, so it is usually the best place to start. There will likely be a small fee for copies.

To learn more about the information and documents you should provide your estate’s executor, consult an experienced Tampa estate planning lawyer with BaumannKangas Estate Law.