Who Needs A Death Certificate After Someone Dies?

When someone passes away, an original death certificate is issued by the government as a legal record of the individual’s death. This document is important for a variety of reasons and is needed by several parties. 

The death certificate is the legal proof of a death and there are several reasons why it is necessary. Death certificates are essential documentation needed to close out a person’s affairs, to claim benefits and insurance for relatives and spouses, to claim social security benefits, and to complete the legal requirement that the person’s death is registered. It may even be necessary to get married if a widow or widower must prove that his or her previous spouse has passed.

Public health officials also use death certificates to compile death indexes on cause of death, age of death, and other data. Public health policies depend heavily on the mortality data from death certificates as they provide information about the causes of death and illnesses preceding death. Other government officials may need the death certificate during investigations to determine if foul-play occurred.

Funeral homes generally offer a service to file all the necessary paperwork to request a death certificate. They gather personal information from family members and obtain the signature of a doctor, medical examiner, or coroner. Funeral homes charge a fee for each certified copy of original death certificate they obtain.

The funeral director or government agency will need the following information about the deceased:

  • Full Name
  • Social Security Number
  • Date of Birth
  • Place of Birth (City/State or Country if outside United States)
  • Address at the Time of Death (Usual Residence)
  • Marital Status
  • Surviving Spouse’s Name
  • Military Information
  • Father’s Name and Mother’s Name (Including Maiden Name)
  • Highest Level of Education
  • Race
  • Usual Occupation (Student/Disabled/Homemaker are acceptable, Retired is not)
  • Industry/Business 

First and foremost, the death certificate is needed by the family of the deceased to settle the individual’s estate. This includes distributing assets, closing bank accounts, and transferring property. The death certificate is also needed to cancel credit cards, insurance policies, and other financial accounts.

It is also needed by the funeral home to arrange for the burial or cremation of the individual. This document is required to obtain a burial permit and to proceed with funeral arrangements.

Additionally, the death certificate is required for government benefits such as survivor benefits from Social Security, veterans benefits, and other government programs. It is also needed to claim any life insurance policies or other benefits from the deceased’s employer.

Lastly, the death certificate is also needed to change any legal documents or identification documents, such as a driver’s license, passport or voter registration.

It is important to note that some parties will accept a photocopy of the original death certificate. Others will require a certified copy of the original. However, the original death certificate is the legal document and is needed for most legal and financial transactions. It is important to keep original death certificate in a safe place and to make copies as needed.

Back to Knowledge Center
Use zip code for more precise search results