Why We Need Death Certificates

by MSO
copy of a death certificate

A death certificate is necessary in order to arrange a funeral, prove a will or claim life insurance.

At one time or another we are all going to die and our families will need a death certificate. This is a document issued by the government that declares the date, location and cause of death. There are a number of reasons why a death certificate is required. One purpose is to review someone’s death and be able to figure out if there was foul-play involved or if it was accidental. Death certificates are needed to arrange a burial or cremation to provide prima facie evidence of the fact of death, which can be used to prove a person’s will or to claim a person’s life insurance. Death certificates are also used in public health to gather data on leading causes of death.

In the United States the process of applying for a death certificate requires a physician, medical examiner, nurse practitioner, forensic pathologist or corner to sign a death certificate. These can be varied based on state laws. Deaths must be recorded with local health departments within 72 hours of death and to the state within five to seven days.

In Canada, when someone dies, a doctor or coroner will complete a Medical Certificate of Death and give it to the funeral director along with the body. The next step in registering the death is by having a family member and funeral director complete the Statement of Death with information about the deceased.

A funeral director will help you obtain copies of a death certificate and will submit both the Medical Certificate of Death and the Statement of Death to the local municipal clerk’s office.

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