If your spouse or loved one dies, you are likely preoccupied with planning the funeral and notifying friends and family. One task to take care of within the first month is obtaining 10 to 12 state-certified copies of the death certificate.
You will need certified copies of the death certificate to:
• access your loved one’s bank accounts;
• file for benefits with the Social Security Administration, the VA and private employers;
• change title to real estate, vehicles and all investment/savings accounts; and
• close your deceased spouse’s credit cards.
Your mortuary or funeral home can help you get this death certificate, and it’s often cheaper to buy a large number at once.
What information to provide
To obtain a death certificate, you will need:
• Your spouse’s full name and age at death;
• Place, date and time of death;
• State of your spouse’s birth;
• Reason for request;
• A photocopy of your driver’s license, state ID or passport; and
• Credit card information for payment.
Get a free death certificate?
You may wonder if you can get a death certificate for free. Not usually. In Colorado, certified death records obtained from the Vital Records Department of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment cost $17 for the first copy and $10 for each subsequent one. (These costs are increasing August 1st, 2012).
States charge citizens for this service in order to cover the cost of maintaining the database. Beware, if you find a free online death certificate, it won’t have the necessary state certification and won’t be considered valid with banks and other financial institutions.
For more information, see Life After Death – A legal and Practical Guide for Surviving Spouses by Marilyn W. McWilliams, J.D.