How Do I Get a Death Certificate for a Deceased Parent?

Order death certificate copies from the funeral home, creamatorium or the local government's vital records department.
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When a loved one passes, the funeral home or crematorium usually fills out a death certificate and files it with the local or state vital records department within days of the death as determined by state law. Relatives left to administer the estate of a deceased relative will need certified copies of the death certificate to give to insurance and credit card companies or for other business matters related to the deceased. You may also need a death certificate to obtain a permit to spread cremated remains, among other reasons.

1 Mortuary or Funeral Home

When you're handling the arrangements of a relative's funeral, cremation or estate after death, the funeral home or crematorium usually includes a certified copy of the death certificate as part of the burial or cremation package unless you decline it. You can also order extra copies from them, if necessary, when you fill out the paperwork. Make certain to distinguish between informational or certified copies when you order the death certificate, as the certified copies include an official stamp or seal from the local government's vital records department -- and most claims of property or insurance proceeds require a certified copy.

2 Vital Records Department

Navigate to the website of your local vital records department in your city, county or state. Download the death certificate request form, fill it out and send it in with a check to obtain a certified copy of a death certificate. You will need more than one certified copy if you have more than one insurance company or property requests to handle, as each separate entity will require its own certified copy. You can also visit your local vital records department to pick up a copy from them if you need one immediately. Be prepared to provide the person’s first and last name, city and county of death, birth state and date of birth, birth name of the mother or parent and spouse and the person's Social Security number. If you’re mailing in the form, you might have to have your signature notarized.

As a native Californian, artist, journalist and published author, Laurie Brenner began writing professionally in 1975. She has written for newspapers, magazines, online publications and sites. Brenner graduated from San Diego's Coleman College.