Death Certificate

A sample of certified certificate of death.

Death certificates are an essential source of data regarding a dead person’s disease incidence, prevalence, and mortality. It refers either to a document issued by a medical practitioner certifying the deceased state of a person or, popularly, to a document issued by a person such as a registrar of vital statistics that declares the date, location and cause of a person’s death as later entered in an official register of deaths.

Before issuing a death certificate, the authorities require a certificate from a physician to confirm the cause of death and the identity of the deceased person. If the physician failed to submit the necessary form to the government immediately, it would be automatically a crime and a cause for loss of one’s license to practice. This is because of past issues in which dead people continued to receive public benefits or still votes on elections.

Purpose of Death Certificate

Deceased feet in the morgue with tag.

Each governmental jurisdiction in every country authorizes the form of the document for use necessary to legally produce it.

One purpose of the certificate is to review the cause of death to determine if there’s any foul-play occurred as it can rule out an accidental death or a murder going by the findings and ruling of the medical examiner. The document is also required to arrange a burial or cremation to provide evidence of the fact of death, which can be used to prove a person’s will or to claim on a person’s life insurance. If you have a funeral director, they are the ones who’ll register the death certificate for you, but you’ll need to give them some personal information about the person who died. If you’re organizing the funeral yourself, you’ll need to register the death. Lastly, death certificates are used in public health to compile data on leading causes of death among other statistics. If you need assistance with a low cost cremation, you can reach out to us as well.

Death Certificate as a Public Document

A person requesting a death certificate of a loved one online.

Today, you can easily request a death certificate with just a few simple clicks. The document will then be delivered at your footsteps after a week or two. No questions asked, but obviously, they’ll be requiring you to fill out a form to successfully ship the document to your address. Like the countries New Zealand and the Philippines, you can order death certificates thru their respected webpages; New Zealand Government¹ and Philippine Statistic Office.

In most of the United States, death certificates are also considered public domain documents and can, therefore, be obtained for any individual regardless of the requester’s relationship to the deceased.

Other countries are strict when releasing a death certificate, and they still require you to include what’s your relationship with the deceased. However, in some states, you can hire a person to line up for you to get a document if you don’t have time, this also applies to other important documents such as the birth certificate, marriage certificate and the like. The person can be a relative, close friends or even a stranger. They need a valid identification card and an authorization letter saying that you allow the said person to claim your certifications.

Other states take a different view and restrict the issue of the death records. For example, in New York, death certificates are only obtainable by close relatives, including the spouse, parent, child or sibling of the deceased, and other persons who have a documented lawful right or claim, documented medical need, or a New York State Court Order.

If you are not a relative of the deceased person, a letter or document from the office or agency that needs the death certificate must accompany the request.

The Department of Public Health in Illinois offers two types of copies of death certificates:

(1) A certified copy used for legal purposes such as settling an estate, claiming a will or for insurance purposes,

(2) An uncertified copy is a plain paper copy of the death certificate, often used for research or genealogical purposes, meaning to trace the deceased person’s lines of family descent. It is informational use only and is not used for legal purposes.

Death records are not public records and are only available to those who have a personal or property right interest. Property right interest is something that is owned, such as tangible items like a car title or a property deed with the decedent.

Michael Johnston

Michael Johnston

I am a licensed funeral director and the owner of Beloved Cremations. My cremation center is licensed and certified to operate in Los Angeles, California as well as other nearby cities. I also write articles here and in other sites to help readers like you to navigate funeral and cremation process the easiest way possible. If you have general question or inquiry about our cremation services, just call us anytime.

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