How Many Death Certificates Will You Need?

April 10, 2018

After the death of a loved one, there can be a lot to handle. To make life insurance claims, deal with the estate, and handle other paperwork, you will need copies of your loved one’s death certificate. How many you will need depends on what matters will need to be settled. Here’s what you should know.

Obtaining Death Certificates

If your loved one is being examined by the medical examiner, they will automatically generate a death certificate, which is then filed with the city clerk. The death certificate is filed in the city or town where the death occurred and the city or town where the deceased lived.

If your loved one is not being examined by the medical examiner, your funeral director can help you. If the death occurred in Boston, you will need to pick them up in person at Boston City Hall.

For each purpose, you will likely need certified death certificates versus making copies of a master certificate. Call your city or town clerk to find out how much each copy will cost.

Pending Death Certificates

If the medical examiner has not finished their examination, the death certificate will say “pending”. Unfortunately, some financial institutions and insurance companies will not accept pending death certificates. If you order extra death certificates from the office of vital records, you can choose not to receive a certificate in pending status. If you select that option, the office of vital records won’t send you the certificates until the pending status has been resolved, however, this may take additional time.

Using Death Certificates

In Massachusetts, funeral directors are required to notify Social Security of deaths. This ensures that anyone receiving Social Security payments do not continue to receive payments following their passing.

You also need a death certificate for the bank. That can be critical to close accounts or to take your loved one’s name off joint accounts. If you receive credit card bills in your their name, you can simply return the bill along with a copy of the certificate to close down the account.

If your loved one was actively employed, you may need to provide a copy of the certificate to their employer’s human resources department. That way, they can distribute life insurance benefits, union death benefits, or retirement accounts. In these cases, the employer may need a separate certificate for each claim. You may also need a certificate for health and life insurance companies.

When you or your accountant is filing the last tax return for your loved one or if you want to claim a tax refund on their behalf, you will likely also need a certificate for that. Finally, you need a certificate for the probate court, as it deals with your loved one’s estate.

Getting Help with Death Certificates

Dealing with paperwork after the death of a loved one can be difficult, and in a lot of cases, you need multiple certificates. Generally, the more accounts and insurance plans your loved one has, the more certificates you need.

By far the easiest way to obtain death certificates is to request them from your funeral director – he or she can help you secure the number of certificates you need for various purposes. At Boston Cremation, we can help. Contact us today at 781.322.0909.

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