How to Order a Death Certificate After a Loved One’s Passing: Guidance from a Minnesota Will Lawyer

Dec 19, 2023 | Wills

The loss of a loved one is always a challenging time. Amidst the emotional turmoil, there are several practical tasks that must be undertaken. One of the foremost among these is obtaining the deceased’s death certificate. 

Why Do You Need a Death Certificate?

A death certificate serves multiple purposes:

  1. Legal Proof: It’s the official document that confirms and records the death of an individual.
  2. Estate Settlement: It is often required to access and distribute assets, claim life insurance, and execute other estate-related tasks.
  3. Benefit Claims: It’s necessary for claiming various benefits such as Social Security.
  4. Record Keeping: It aids governmental entities in keeping accurate records.

Many times the funeral home or company handling final arrangements will also assist in ordering death certificates, but here is a general overview of the process.

Steps to Order a Death Certificate:

  • Determine the Number of Copies Needed: Before ordering, consider how many entities (like banks, life insurance companies, etc.) might require an original copy. Many professionals will recommend ordering 8-10 copies. 
  • Locate the Vital Records Office: Each state has its own office (often at a county or state level) that handles vital records, including death certificates.
  • Gather Necessary Information: Typically, you’ll need to provide:

– Full name of the deceased.

– Date and place of death.

– Relationship to the deceased (to prove eligibility to receive the certificate).

– Reason for the request (e.g., settling an estate).

– Your valid ID.

  • Choose How to Order: 

– In Person: This is often the quickest way to obtain a death certificate. Visit the vital records office with all the necessary documentation.

– By Mail: Many states offer this option. Send in a completed application form with the required fees.

Online: Some states have digitized this process. Check if there’s an official portal for online requests.

By Phone: A few locations might accept phone orders, usually through a third-party service.

  • Pay the Fee: There’s typically a fee for each copy of the death certificate. The amount varies by jurisdiction.
  • Wait: The duration for processing can range from immediate issuance (in-person) to several weeks, depending on the method chosen and the processing speed of the office. 

You can find more information on death certificates in Minnesota on the Department of Health website.

Things to Remember:

  • Ensure the information provided is accurate to prevent delays.
  • For older records or deaths that occurred several years ago, the process might differ slightly. Be sure to consult with the vital records office.
  • Always keep a few copies stored safely; you never know when they might be needed again.

Seek Guidance from Your Minnesota Will Lawyer
While ordering a death certificate is generally a straightforward process, complexities might arise, especially when managing other aspects of a loved one’s passing. Remember, as your Minnesota estate planning lawyer, I’m here to assist you through every step, ensuring all legal processes related to your loved one’s estate are handled smoothly and compassionately. Please don’t hesitate to reach out for guidance and support. Contact us at 763-244-2949 to schedule a consultation.