Death Certificates

Death Certificate Calculator

Our death certificate calculator will give you an estimate for how many death certificates you need.

What is a death certificate?

A death certificate is an official document that proves that someone has passed away. This is important for families who need to close accounts and access benefits. Death certificates are also used by the government to track health and demographic trends across the country.

How many death certificates do I need?

You need a certified copy of a death certificate to close any account or claim any benefit after someone passes away. Some companies will need an original (e.g. pensions, insurance and property) and others will just need a photocopy (e.g. utility companies and banks). As a rule of thumb, legal matters will need an original and anyone else will accept a copy.

The number of death certificates a family needs will depend on the number of assets, benefits and accounts that have been left to them. Unfortunately, the only way to know for certain is to contact each organization involved, directly. Ask how each organization works - some will accept an email of a copy, whilst others will need to make the copy themselves.

How do I get a death certificate?

Once the death has been registered, death certificates can be ordered from three places:

  • The funeral home you are using
  • A third party tool, like VitalChek
  • The state or county in which the person passed away

There are two types of death certificate: informational and certified. Informational copies can be ordered by anyone. To get a certified copy, you need to be closely related to the person who passed away.

How long does it take to get a death certificate?

Four parties are involved in processing the first death certificate, so the amount of time it takes to arrive can vary. However, it is normal for a county to take 2-3 weeks to process an order, and the state could take 3-4 weeks.

The steps that need to be completed to print a death certificate are:

  • The next of kin provides information about the person who has passed away
  • The primary care physician sends the causes of death to the funeral home
  • The funeral home registers the death in the relevant county
  • The death certificates are printed by the county

The funeral home and next of kin can have all the information ready in a few hours. In general, delays are caused by primary care physicians providing the causes of death and the county processing the order.

Death Certificate Calculator

Our death certificate calculator will give you an estimate for how many death certificates you need.