What is a Death Certificate?

cremations services

As part of our cremations services, we will take care of getting you a certified death certificate after your loved one has died. When you make your funeral arrangements with us, you may be unfamiliar with what a death certificate is, how it’s created, and why you need it.

When your loved one dies, you will find that a flurry of activity that may last several days begins to occur. It can be overwhelming. It can be stressful. And much of it, in hindsight later, may seem like a blur. We want to help you understand what is happening during this time.

When your loved one dies, the first thing that happens is that a medical professional pronounces your loved one dead, notes the time, and gives the primary cause of death. If your loved one is in the hospital, a hospital doctor will do these things as part of creating the death certificate (which they sign).

If your loved one dies at home and is under hospice care, then the hospice nurse will pronounce your loved one dead and note the time. The death certificate will be created at the hospice agency and the doctor who oversees the hospice agency will indicate the primary cause of death and sign the death certificate.

The death certificate is then sent to the funeral home to be completed by the funeral director. When you go to the funeral home, you should have the following information for the death certificate with you: date of birth, social security number, occupation, and marital status (you will need other information as well, but this is the information that’s needed to complete the death certificate).

Once you provide this information to the funeral director, they will complete the death certificate, sign it, and register the death with the state of New York. The state of New York will then issue a certified death certificate for your deceased loved one.

As part of gathering the information for the death certificate, the funeral home director will ask you how many copies of the death certificate you will need. To answer this question, we need to answer why a certified death certificate is needed.

Certified death certificates are needed to handle the final affairs of your deceased loved one. One reason they are needed is to claim life insurance benefits, Social Security benefits (if you’re the surviving spouse of someone who was receiving Social Security benefits and their monthly income is higher than your own), and other types of income or monetary benefits.

Executors of wills and trustees of revocable trusts also need certified death certificates to do their jobs in paying debts and distributing assets to beneficiaries. Banks require a certified death certificate to access safety deposit boxes (if the executor or trustee doesn’t have access) and to make changes to bank accounts.

Certified death certificates are also needed to transfer property, to close mortgages and open new mortgages, and for access to investment and retirement accounts, if the executor or trustee doesn’t have access already or is not name as the beneficiary of the accounts.

So, if your loved one has an average estate, you should have the funeral director obtain 20-25 copies of the certified death certificate. If your loved one has a very large estate, you may need to order twice as many, if not more, death certificates.

Guidance on death certificates is one of the cremations services we offer, so you can depend on our compassionate and experienced team at Hopler & Eschbach Funeral Home to help you. You can visit our funeral home at 483 Chenango St., Binghamton, NY 13901, or you can call us today at (607) 722-4023.