All you need to know about a death certificate search

What is a death record compared to a death certificate?

Death records are public records and fall under the category of vital records. A death certificate, on the other hand, is not exactly a public record, as it can be used for wrong reasons by con artists. A death record can be accessed both offline and online. However, a death certificate has to be applied for with a form and a notarized identity certificate.


Who prepares a death record?

A death record is prepared and filed by a medical practitioner and a funeral home or a cremation service. It can also be prepared by a person who is entrusted with the deceased person’s remains.


What is the information available in a death record?

    • – First name and last name of the deceased.
    • – Date of birth and place of birth.
    • – Name of the spouse.
    • – Name of the parent or guardian and their place of residence.
    • – Veterans claim if applicable or discharge details.
    • – Education of the deceased.
    • – Cause of death.
    • – Date, time and place of death.


Why is a death record needed?

A death record is needed for various legal procedures. Starting from claiming the insurance to inheriting the estate, the family members or beneficiaries of the deceased will need a death record for them all. It is also needed to know about and settle/dispute the outstanding debts of the deceased with credit card companies, insured loans and the credit union. Death records will also be required to access bank accounts of the deceased, for survivor benefits and for transferring vehicles.


Who can apply for a death certificate?

Only certain classes of people are permitted to apply for a death certificate:


        • – The immediate family members like the spouse, children, sibling, grandchildren, parent or guardian.
        • – All law enforcement and government agency officials can access it when they are related to a case involving the registrant.
        • – Attorneys of the registrant acting on behalf of the registrant or on behalf of his estate.
        • – Employees of a funeral home acting in the nature of employment


Where are the causes of deaths listed?

The cause of death is listed in the certificate given by the medical practitioner at the hospital where the death occurred. The same cause is mentioned in the death certificate. This information is also available in the death records. However, the information available in the death records can differ across states.


What is a social security death index (SSDI)?

The SSDI is a database that houses information of all the deaths reported in the United States of America. The SSDI is considered a useful tool by researchers from the fields of medical research and epidemiology. This database has faced strong criticism in recent years for the amount of information it allows the public to access.


The information available in the SSDI includes the name of the deceased with the birth date, time and place of birth, the social security number of the deceased and the SSN issuing state. A death records genealogy search is often done by people trying to trace their ancestral information or to write a biography.


Where can I look up a death record?

You can look up a death record online as well as offline.


        • – Online: It is available on many third-party sites that offer copies of vital records for a small fee. However, to get a certified copy one has to pay a visit to the vital records unit.
        • – Offline: It is available at the Vital Records Unit of the county where the death took place.



For those who are interested in the death index for academic purposes, it is available online for free and includes all the basic information needed.


Be sure to check the state laws before you order the death certificate from a third-party company as many states prohibit it.


How do I correct a death record?

Different states have different rules for amendment. Some states allow you to send a certificate of correction request by mail, by email or on the state/county website. However, many states allow amendments only through a physical visit to the vital records unit of the county. They also expect you to show the original copies of supporting documents while submitting the amendment form.


It is important to give an affidavit along with the correction request. The list of supporting documents needed to request the correction is available on the state websites or with the Vital Records Unit. You also need to provide a government photo ID. Check the ID before submission as unreadable or damaged ID cards can result in the request form being returned.


What are death notices?

Death notices are announcements made in newspapers to inform the general public of a person’s demise. The information is put in print by the friends of family members of the deceased, as a way to notify others of the individual’s passing away.


Can I find out if someone died recently?

It is easy to find the information about anyone’s death as the death records are available online and offline. Also, death notices and obituary reports published in the newspapers are available online.



Who notifies social security of a person’s death?

In most cases, the people from the funeral homes or government agencies report the deaths. Family members can also report the death. Social security death notification must be done as early as possible.

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