After a loved one passes, there are a lot of affairs to get in order. Some of the related to-dos are expected and others are completely unexpected. Obtaining the death certificate is one of those essential to-dos that many people know about but often forget about in the moment. And very few people are familiar with the process of getting one.
Getting a death certificate is absolutely necessary, and it’s something you need to be familiar with while making arrangements. Here are some of the common death certificate questions we answer for our clients that cover all of the basics.
What Exactly is a Death Certificate?
A death certificate is an official document that notes the date, time, location and cause of death.
Recording such information with a death certificate has been a practice in the U.S. since 1900. Today, a death certificate is required with every death in every state. The death certificate can be issued by a medical examiner which is then signed by a doctor or coroner. In some states death certificates are issued by an official like the registrar of vital statistics.
Death certificates are actually some of the most important legal documents in existence. That’s because it’s the only legal proof that someone is no longer living. It’s used for a variety of other important tasks, such as:
- Adjusting/stopping social security payments
- Managing pensions
- Disbursing retirement benefits
- Receiving payment on a life insurance policy
- Disbursing other benefits
- Settling estates – stocks, property, etc.
- Closing bank accounts
You will also need a death certificate in order to have a burial or cremation. A Certificate of Disposition of Remains may be issued for this purpose when the death certificate is created.
Who Needs a Copy of the Death Certificate?
A death certificate is needed to settle a lot of different affairs. But who actually needs a death certificate to handle all these matters?
The state will keep the death certificate information on record, but you also need to have a copy for your own records. Other family members may also want to have a copy of the death certificate to keep on file.
A copy of the certificate will also need to be given to some third parties in order to settle affairs. The third party needs to review the information and verify that the individual is actually deceased before altering accounts, closing accounts or releasing funds. This also includes the IRS, the credit bureaus, banks. And most recently iOS, Facebook, and Instagram.
How Much Do Death Certificates Cost?
Death certificates typically cost $21 for the first copy and $4 for each thereafter. The cost for each copy varies by state and county.
How Long Does It Take to Get Death Certificates?
The time it takes to get a death certificate depends on where you live. In Texas, the whole process generally takes about 4-6 weeks.
First, you must complete the Vital Statistics form. Then, we submit the information to the Texas Health And Human Services. They will generate the death certificate once they have the information. Next the doctor needs to sign the death certificate. Once that’s done we can place the order to have the death certificates that you requested be sent directly to you.
What Happens if I Don’t Order Enough Death Certificates?
This could be a big problem and cause delays in finalizing or closing accounts. When that happens you’ll deal with a lot of unnecessary stress. If you don’t order enough initially you’ll have to put in a request for more death certificates.
How to Order More Death Certificates?
How death certificates are ordered is different in each state, but you will need to order them through a government entity. You can order additional death certificates directly through the Texas Department of State Health Services.
How Many Death Certificates Are Needed?
A death certificate is going to be created, but how many need to be made? Many families ask themselves this very question. It’s actually one of the most common questions that we hear.
Most people assume you only need one or two, but that’s usually not enough. Many third parties that require a copy of the death certificate want an official state-issued copy not a photocopy. For example, the Social Security Administration is going to need an official copy to release benefits to a surviving spouse.
At Green Cremation Texas we recommend getting at least five copies of the death certificate. However, it may be better to get at least 10 copies, especially if the deceased had a number of accounts that need to be closed or transferred.
Our eco-friendly direct cremation services include obtaining the death certificate. Just let us know how many copies you need, and we’ll make sure you get them. If you have additional questions about death certificates give us a call, email or text anytime and we’ll provide the information you need.