How to Order Certified Copies of a Death Certificate
After someone dies, certified death certificates become necessary and useful documents. You will need them, for example, to record the deeds necessary to change title to real property, to claim life insurance, to file estate tax returns, and to claim pensions or any other benefit available as a result of that person's death. This makes perfect sense, since the companies holding these assets do not want to distribute them unless they are certain that the decedent has actually died.
The funeral home that prepares a body for burial or cremation will usually order copies, and they'll ask you how many you need. For most estates, 5-10 copies is plenty.
But if you need more as the process of administering a trust or estate goes on, you can order more yourself by contacting the state or county's vital records office. Usually, the county office can provide you with the certificates more quickly than the state's office can. You'll want to contact the office in the county where the person died.
Different states call this office different things; in Texas, it's called the "local registrar"; in California, it's called the County Recorder's offfice. The cost to receive certified copies varies by state, and sometimes, by county. In Texas, the cost is $20 for the first copy and 3$ for each additional copy. In California the cost is $21 per copy. Many states require you to be an authorized individual, usually to a family member, funeral home director, a person authorized to receive a death certificate as a result of a court order, an executor, or an attorney to order certified death certificates, to avoid fraud.
Click here for a link to a website that shows you how to apply to each state's office.
Once you find the proper office, you'll probably need the following information to request a certified copy of death certificate:
Name of deceased
Date of death
City and county of death