Estate Planning

Can Anyone Get a Copy of a Death Certificate? Who Is Authorized?

Nash Riggins

|

November 29, 2023

Trustworthy is an intelligent digital vault that protects and optimizes your family's information so that you can save time, money, and enjoy peace of mind.

copy of a death certificate

The intelligent digital vault for families

Trustworthy protects and optimizes important family information so you can save time, money, and enjoy peace of mind

When someone passes away, local officials will issue a death certificate laying out all the key details about that person and their death. You might wonder, can anyone get a copy of a death certificate?

Although they’re a matter of public record, not just anyone can request an official copy — that’s why we’ve created this guide. Read on to find out who is authorized to get a copy of a death certificate, how the process works, and what to do if you’re not authorized.

Key Takeaways

  • The rules around who is authorized to get a copy of a death certificate vary by state.

  • Generally speaking, you’ll need to be an immediate family member or legal representative to gain access to someone’s death certificate.

  • You can usually still request an informational copy of a death certificate if you’re not authorized.

Can Anyone Get a Copy of a Death Certificate?

get a copy of a death certificate

The short answer is: it depends. The rules around who can get access to someone’s death certificate vary by state.

Andrew Pickett, Lead trial attorney and founder at Andrew Pickett Law, explains:

“Death certificates are considered public records accessible by anyone who requests them. However, some states may have different laws regarding access to death certificates for specific individuals or entities, such as immediate family members or medical professionals."

To find out whether you’re authorized to get access, you’ll need to contact the Vital Records Office in the state where the death occurred.

Just about every state will grant access to a core group of authorized individuals. This will typically include family members of the decedent, such as their:

  • Spouse or domestic partner

  • Parent or legal guardian

  • Child

  • Sibling

  • Grandparent

  • Grandchild

In addition to family members, executors of an estate or other individuals who demonstrate they have a legitimate interest in the decedent or their estate can also request a copy of a death certificate. 

For example, an accountant or a financial planner might be granted a copy of a death certificate for estate settlement purposes.

Why Would Someone Need to Get a Copy of a Death Certificate?

Min Hwan Ahn, owner of the Law Office of Ahn & Sinowitz, explains:

“People typically require death certificates for a variety of reasons, often related to legal or financial matters. This could include settling estates, claiming life insurance benefits, accessing pensions, or changing title deeds.”

Death certificates are important in settling someone’s estate because they serve as the official record of that person’s death.

After someone dies, a coroner, medical practitioner, or licensed physician completes the death certificate. It verifies someone’s passing and is then submitted to the local Vital Records Office.

Death certificates include all the basic identifying information about a decedent, including their full name, date of birth, age at the time of death, gender, and home address. They also generally include information about the decedent’s close relatives, such as their spouse.

To initiate the probate process, a will’s executor will have to submit a certified copy of the decedent’s death certificate. The court will then rely upon the death certificate to verify all of the key details about the individual’s death.

Death certificates are also required to settle someone’s credit card accounts or close bank accounts after death.

How Do You Get a Copy of a Death Certificate?

how do you get a copy of a death certificate

A funeral director or coroner will typically provide copies of a death certificate to an individual’s next of kin after they’ve passed away. To get an additional copy, you’ll need to put in a request to the Vital Records Office in the state where the person’s death happened.

This process varies by state. For example, let’s say you’re a resident of Texas. 

Only the immediate family members of a decedent are allowed to request a copy of a death certificate without providing legal documentation. That means you’re only authorized to request a death certificate copy if you’re the decedent’s child, parent, sibling, grandparent or spouse.

If you’re not on that list, you’ll need to provide proof that you have a direct, tangible interest in obtaining the decedent’s death certificate. That might include a court order establishing guardianship or an insurance policy that lists you as a beneficiary.

Assuming you’re authorized, you must complete an application form and pay $20 for your copy, and then $3 for any extra copy.

Again, the process varies by state, so you’ll need to check in with your local Vital Records Office to determine whether you’re authorized to request a copy of a death certificate.

After you’ve received the death certificate, you must be able to securely store that document so you can access it whenever required. That’s where a Family Operating System® like Trustworthy can make life a lot easier.

With Trustworthy, you can upload family documents like death certificates, passports, wills, or anything in between. Those digital copies are then protected by two-factor authentication, hardware keys, and AES 256-bit encryption to ensure they’re fully secure and only accessible to those you trust.

From there, you can grant access to each document when a family member, attorney, or financial planner requires it.

How Can You Get a Copy of a Death Certificate If You’re Not Authorized?

how can you get a copy of a death certificate

Most states issue two types of death certificate copies: certified copies and informational copies.

You can’t get your hands on the certified copy of a death certificate unless you’re an authorized individual. But in many states, any member of the public can request an informational copy of a death certificate.

An informational copy of a death certificate has a lot of the same information you’d find on a certified copy. However, some identifying factors like the decedent’s Social Security Number (SSN) are excluded, which means it holds no legal weight.

“This type of copy may not be accepted in legal matters, but it can still provide basic information such as the name, date, and cause of death,” says Pickett.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Death Certificates Public Record?

Yes, death certificates maintained by the Vital Records Office are public records. That means members of the general public can typically request an informational copy.

How Do You Get a Death Certificate Online?

The process of accessing a death certificate varies by state. To find out the process you must follow, contact the Vital Records Office in the state where the death occurred.

Is a Certified Copy of a Death Certificate the Same as the Original?

The certified copy of a death certificate includes all the same information as the original, but it includes a government stamp and embossed seal to prove it’s an official copy.

Estate Planning

Can Anyone Get a Copy of a Death Certificate? Who Is Authorized?

Nash Riggins

|

November 29, 2023

Trustworthy is an intelligent digital vault that protects and optimizes your family's information so that you can save time, money, and enjoy peace of mind.

When someone passes away, local officials will issue a death certificate laying out all the key details about that person and their death. You might wonder, can anyone get a copy of a death certificate?

Although they’re a matter of public record, not just anyone can request an official copy — that’s why we’ve created this guide. Read on to find out who is authorized to get a copy of a death certificate, how the process works, and what to do if you’re not authorized.

Key Takeaways

  • The rules around who is authorized to get a copy of a death certificate vary by state.

  • Generally speaking, you’ll need to be an immediate family member or legal representative to gain access to someone’s death certificate.

  • You can usually still request an informational copy of a death certificate if you’re not authorized.

Can Anyone Get a Copy of a Death Certificate?

get a copy of a death certificate

The short answer is: it depends. The rules around who can get access to someone’s death certificate vary by state.

Andrew Pickett, Lead trial attorney and founder at Andrew Pickett Law, explains:

“Death certificates are considered public records accessible by anyone who requests them. However, some states may have different laws regarding access to death certificates for specific individuals or entities, such as immediate family members or medical professionals."

To find out whether you’re authorized to get access, you’ll need to contact the Vital Records Office in the state where the death occurred.

Just about every state will grant access to a core group of authorized individuals. This will typically include family members of the decedent, such as their:

  • Spouse or domestic partner

  • Parent or legal guardian

  • Child

  • Sibling

  • Grandparent

  • Grandchild

In addition to family members, executors of an estate or other individuals who demonstrate they have a legitimate interest in the decedent or their estate can also request a copy of a death certificate. 

For example, an accountant or a financial planner might be granted a copy of a death certificate for estate settlement purposes.

Why Would Someone Need to Get a Copy of a Death Certificate?

Min Hwan Ahn, owner of the Law Office of Ahn & Sinowitz, explains:

“People typically require death certificates for a variety of reasons, often related to legal or financial matters. This could include settling estates, claiming life insurance benefits, accessing pensions, or changing title deeds.”

Death certificates are important in settling someone’s estate because they serve as the official record of that person’s death.

After someone dies, a coroner, medical practitioner, or licensed physician completes the death certificate. It verifies someone’s passing and is then submitted to the local Vital Records Office.

Death certificates include all the basic identifying information about a decedent, including their full name, date of birth, age at the time of death, gender, and home address. They also generally include information about the decedent’s close relatives, such as their spouse.

To initiate the probate process, a will’s executor will have to submit a certified copy of the decedent’s death certificate. The court will then rely upon the death certificate to verify all of the key details about the individual’s death.

Death certificates are also required to settle someone’s credit card accounts or close bank accounts after death.

How Do You Get a Copy of a Death Certificate?

how do you get a copy of a death certificate

A funeral director or coroner will typically provide copies of a death certificate to an individual’s next of kin after they’ve passed away. To get an additional copy, you’ll need to put in a request to the Vital Records Office in the state where the person’s death happened.

This process varies by state. For example, let’s say you’re a resident of Texas. 

Only the immediate family members of a decedent are allowed to request a copy of a death certificate without providing legal documentation. That means you’re only authorized to request a death certificate copy if you’re the decedent’s child, parent, sibling, grandparent or spouse.

If you’re not on that list, you’ll need to provide proof that you have a direct, tangible interest in obtaining the decedent’s death certificate. That might include a court order establishing guardianship or an insurance policy that lists you as a beneficiary.

Assuming you’re authorized, you must complete an application form and pay $20 for your copy, and then $3 for any extra copy.

Again, the process varies by state, so you’ll need to check in with your local Vital Records Office to determine whether you’re authorized to request a copy of a death certificate.

After you’ve received the death certificate, you must be able to securely store that document so you can access it whenever required. That’s where a Family Operating System® like Trustworthy can make life a lot easier.

With Trustworthy, you can upload family documents like death certificates, passports, wills, or anything in between. Those digital copies are then protected by two-factor authentication, hardware keys, and AES 256-bit encryption to ensure they’re fully secure and only accessible to those you trust.

From there, you can grant access to each document when a family member, attorney, or financial planner requires it.

How Can You Get a Copy of a Death Certificate If You’re Not Authorized?

how can you get a copy of a death certificate

Most states issue two types of death certificate copies: certified copies and informational copies.

You can’t get your hands on the certified copy of a death certificate unless you’re an authorized individual. But in many states, any member of the public can request an informational copy of a death certificate.

An informational copy of a death certificate has a lot of the same information you’d find on a certified copy. However, some identifying factors like the decedent’s Social Security Number (SSN) are excluded, which means it holds no legal weight.

“This type of copy may not be accepted in legal matters, but it can still provide basic information such as the name, date, and cause of death,” says Pickett.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Death Certificates Public Record?

Yes, death certificates maintained by the Vital Records Office are public records. That means members of the general public can typically request an informational copy.

How Do You Get a Death Certificate Online?

The process of accessing a death certificate varies by state. To find out the process you must follow, contact the Vital Records Office in the state where the death occurred.

Is a Certified Copy of a Death Certificate the Same as the Original?

The certified copy of a death certificate includes all the same information as the original, but it includes a government stamp and embossed seal to prove it’s an official copy.

Estate Planning

Can Anyone Get a Copy of a Death Certificate? Who Is Authorized?

Nash Riggins

|

November 29, 2023

Trustworthy is an intelligent digital vault that protects and optimizes your family's information so that you can save time, money, and enjoy peace of mind.

copy of a death certificate

The intelligent digital vault for families

Trustworthy protects and optimizes important family information so you can save time, money, and enjoy peace of mind

When someone passes away, local officials will issue a death certificate laying out all the key details about that person and their death. You might wonder, can anyone get a copy of a death certificate?

Although they’re a matter of public record, not just anyone can request an official copy — that’s why we’ve created this guide. Read on to find out who is authorized to get a copy of a death certificate, how the process works, and what to do if you’re not authorized.

Key Takeaways

  • The rules around who is authorized to get a copy of a death certificate vary by state.

  • Generally speaking, you’ll need to be an immediate family member or legal representative to gain access to someone’s death certificate.

  • You can usually still request an informational copy of a death certificate if you’re not authorized.

Can Anyone Get a Copy of a Death Certificate?

get a copy of a death certificate

The short answer is: it depends. The rules around who can get access to someone’s death certificate vary by state.

Andrew Pickett, Lead trial attorney and founder at Andrew Pickett Law, explains:

“Death certificates are considered public records accessible by anyone who requests them. However, some states may have different laws regarding access to death certificates for specific individuals or entities, such as immediate family members or medical professionals."

To find out whether you’re authorized to get access, you’ll need to contact the Vital Records Office in the state where the death occurred.

Just about every state will grant access to a core group of authorized individuals. This will typically include family members of the decedent, such as their:

  • Spouse or domestic partner

  • Parent or legal guardian

  • Child

  • Sibling

  • Grandparent

  • Grandchild

In addition to family members, executors of an estate or other individuals who demonstrate they have a legitimate interest in the decedent or their estate can also request a copy of a death certificate. 

For example, an accountant or a financial planner might be granted a copy of a death certificate for estate settlement purposes.

Why Would Someone Need to Get a Copy of a Death Certificate?

Min Hwan Ahn, owner of the Law Office of Ahn & Sinowitz, explains:

“People typically require death certificates for a variety of reasons, often related to legal or financial matters. This could include settling estates, claiming life insurance benefits, accessing pensions, or changing title deeds.”

Death certificates are important in settling someone’s estate because they serve as the official record of that person’s death.

After someone dies, a coroner, medical practitioner, or licensed physician completes the death certificate. It verifies someone’s passing and is then submitted to the local Vital Records Office.

Death certificates include all the basic identifying information about a decedent, including their full name, date of birth, age at the time of death, gender, and home address. They also generally include information about the decedent’s close relatives, such as their spouse.

To initiate the probate process, a will’s executor will have to submit a certified copy of the decedent’s death certificate. The court will then rely upon the death certificate to verify all of the key details about the individual’s death.

Death certificates are also required to settle someone’s credit card accounts or close bank accounts after death.

How Do You Get a Copy of a Death Certificate?

how do you get a copy of a death certificate

A funeral director or coroner will typically provide copies of a death certificate to an individual’s next of kin after they’ve passed away. To get an additional copy, you’ll need to put in a request to the Vital Records Office in the state where the person’s death happened.

This process varies by state. For example, let’s say you’re a resident of Texas. 

Only the immediate family members of a decedent are allowed to request a copy of a death certificate without providing legal documentation. That means you’re only authorized to request a death certificate copy if you’re the decedent’s child, parent, sibling, grandparent or spouse.

If you’re not on that list, you’ll need to provide proof that you have a direct, tangible interest in obtaining the decedent’s death certificate. That might include a court order establishing guardianship or an insurance policy that lists you as a beneficiary.

Assuming you’re authorized, you must complete an application form and pay $20 for your copy, and then $3 for any extra copy.

Again, the process varies by state, so you’ll need to check in with your local Vital Records Office to determine whether you’re authorized to request a copy of a death certificate.

After you’ve received the death certificate, you must be able to securely store that document so you can access it whenever required. That’s where a Family Operating System® like Trustworthy can make life a lot easier.

With Trustworthy, you can upload family documents like death certificates, passports, wills, or anything in between. Those digital copies are then protected by two-factor authentication, hardware keys, and AES 256-bit encryption to ensure they’re fully secure and only accessible to those you trust.

From there, you can grant access to each document when a family member, attorney, or financial planner requires it.

How Can You Get a Copy of a Death Certificate If You’re Not Authorized?

how can you get a copy of a death certificate

Most states issue two types of death certificate copies: certified copies and informational copies.

You can’t get your hands on the certified copy of a death certificate unless you’re an authorized individual. But in many states, any member of the public can request an informational copy of a death certificate.

An informational copy of a death certificate has a lot of the same information you’d find on a certified copy. However, some identifying factors like the decedent’s Social Security Number (SSN) are excluded, which means it holds no legal weight.

“This type of copy may not be accepted in legal matters, but it can still provide basic information such as the name, date, and cause of death,” says Pickett.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Death Certificates Public Record?

Yes, death certificates maintained by the Vital Records Office are public records. That means members of the general public can typically request an informational copy.

How Do You Get a Death Certificate Online?

The process of accessing a death certificate varies by state. To find out the process you must follow, contact the Vital Records Office in the state where the death occurred.

Is a Certified Copy of a Death Certificate the Same as the Original?

The certified copy of a death certificate includes all the same information as the original, but it includes a government stamp and embossed seal to prove it’s an official copy.

Estate Planning

Can Anyone Get a Copy of a Death Certificate? Who Is Authorized?

Nash Riggins

|

November 29, 2023

Trustworthy is an intelligent digital vault that protects and optimizes your family's information so that you can save time, money, and enjoy peace of mind.

copy of a death certificate

The intelligent digital vault for families

Trustworthy protects and optimizes important family information so you can save time, money, and enjoy peace of mind

When someone passes away, local officials will issue a death certificate laying out all the key details about that person and their death. You might wonder, can anyone get a copy of a death certificate?

Although they’re a matter of public record, not just anyone can request an official copy — that’s why we’ve created this guide. Read on to find out who is authorized to get a copy of a death certificate, how the process works, and what to do if you’re not authorized.

Key Takeaways

  • The rules around who is authorized to get a copy of a death certificate vary by state.

  • Generally speaking, you’ll need to be an immediate family member or legal representative to gain access to someone’s death certificate.

  • You can usually still request an informational copy of a death certificate if you’re not authorized.

Can Anyone Get a Copy of a Death Certificate?

get a copy of a death certificate

The short answer is: it depends. The rules around who can get access to someone’s death certificate vary by state.

Andrew Pickett, Lead trial attorney and founder at Andrew Pickett Law, explains:

“Death certificates are considered public records accessible by anyone who requests them. However, some states may have different laws regarding access to death certificates for specific individuals or entities, such as immediate family members or medical professionals."

To find out whether you’re authorized to get access, you’ll need to contact the Vital Records Office in the state where the death occurred.

Just about every state will grant access to a core group of authorized individuals. This will typically include family members of the decedent, such as their:

  • Spouse or domestic partner

  • Parent or legal guardian

  • Child

  • Sibling

  • Grandparent

  • Grandchild

In addition to family members, executors of an estate or other individuals who demonstrate they have a legitimate interest in the decedent or their estate can also request a copy of a death certificate. 

For example, an accountant or a financial planner might be granted a copy of a death certificate for estate settlement purposes.

Why Would Someone Need to Get a Copy of a Death Certificate?

Min Hwan Ahn, owner of the Law Office of Ahn & Sinowitz, explains:

“People typically require death certificates for a variety of reasons, often related to legal or financial matters. This could include settling estates, claiming life insurance benefits, accessing pensions, or changing title deeds.”

Death certificates are important in settling someone’s estate because they serve as the official record of that person’s death.

After someone dies, a coroner, medical practitioner, or licensed physician completes the death certificate. It verifies someone’s passing and is then submitted to the local Vital Records Office.

Death certificates include all the basic identifying information about a decedent, including their full name, date of birth, age at the time of death, gender, and home address. They also generally include information about the decedent’s close relatives, such as their spouse.

To initiate the probate process, a will’s executor will have to submit a certified copy of the decedent’s death certificate. The court will then rely upon the death certificate to verify all of the key details about the individual’s death.

Death certificates are also required to settle someone’s credit card accounts or close bank accounts after death.

How Do You Get a Copy of a Death Certificate?

how do you get a copy of a death certificate

A funeral director or coroner will typically provide copies of a death certificate to an individual’s next of kin after they’ve passed away. To get an additional copy, you’ll need to put in a request to the Vital Records Office in the state where the person’s death happened.

This process varies by state. For example, let’s say you’re a resident of Texas. 

Only the immediate family members of a decedent are allowed to request a copy of a death certificate without providing legal documentation. That means you’re only authorized to request a death certificate copy if you’re the decedent’s child, parent, sibling, grandparent or spouse.

If you’re not on that list, you’ll need to provide proof that you have a direct, tangible interest in obtaining the decedent’s death certificate. That might include a court order establishing guardianship or an insurance policy that lists you as a beneficiary.

Assuming you’re authorized, you must complete an application form and pay $20 for your copy, and then $3 for any extra copy.

Again, the process varies by state, so you’ll need to check in with your local Vital Records Office to determine whether you’re authorized to request a copy of a death certificate.

After you’ve received the death certificate, you must be able to securely store that document so you can access it whenever required. That’s where a Family Operating System® like Trustworthy can make life a lot easier.

With Trustworthy, you can upload family documents like death certificates, passports, wills, or anything in between. Those digital copies are then protected by two-factor authentication, hardware keys, and AES 256-bit encryption to ensure they’re fully secure and only accessible to those you trust.

From there, you can grant access to each document when a family member, attorney, or financial planner requires it.

How Can You Get a Copy of a Death Certificate If You’re Not Authorized?

how can you get a copy of a death certificate

Most states issue two types of death certificate copies: certified copies and informational copies.

You can’t get your hands on the certified copy of a death certificate unless you’re an authorized individual. But in many states, any member of the public can request an informational copy of a death certificate.

An informational copy of a death certificate has a lot of the same information you’d find on a certified copy. However, some identifying factors like the decedent’s Social Security Number (SSN) are excluded, which means it holds no legal weight.

“This type of copy may not be accepted in legal matters, but it can still provide basic information such as the name, date, and cause of death,” says Pickett.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Death Certificates Public Record?

Yes, death certificates maintained by the Vital Records Office are public records. That means members of the general public can typically request an informational copy.

How Do You Get a Death Certificate Online?

The process of accessing a death certificate varies by state. To find out the process you must follow, contact the Vital Records Office in the state where the death occurred.

Is a Certified Copy of a Death Certificate the Same as the Original?

The certified copy of a death certificate includes all the same information as the original, but it includes a government stamp and embossed seal to prove it’s an official copy.

Try Trustworthy today.

Try Trustworthy today.

Try the Family Operating System® for yourself. You (and your family) will love it.

Try the Family Operating System® for yourself. You (and your family) will love it.

No credit card required.

No credit card required.