By Last Updated: October 14th, 2022

Death Certificates: Everything You Need to Know

When a loved one passes away, there is a lot of paperwork involved. One of the documents you will need to secure is a death certificate, or the physical proof of your loved one’s passing. A death certificate is important because when it comes to closing accounts and taking care of an individual’s finances, the certificate is proof that what you are doing is legal. However, before you receive a death certificate, you must register the death.

Opal Cremation can take the guesswork out of the paperwork by helping you secure a death certificate for your loved one, which may include copies for family members. Here’s what you need to know about why you need to secure a death certificate, how you go about getting one, and how it can be used to your benefit.

What Is a Death Certificate?

When you are born, your parents sign a birth certificate, providing a legal paper trail for your newfound existence. In the same way, when you die, your loved ones need to obtain an official death certificate to document your passing. These documents are like legal bookends to your life. A death certificate will include the cause, time, and location of death, as well as personal information about the deceased.

What is the Difference Between a Death Certificate and a Death Registration?

Immediately after a loved one passes away, a professional such as a doctor, healthcare provider, or coroner will need to verify that death has taken place, so they will register the death with the county or state. Opal Cremation provides families with the option of a professional registering the death before cremation takes place.

Following the death registration, the family of the deceased can order the certificate of death, which as mentioned before, will be important because the family can use it to close accounts, receive benefits, and take care of the deceased’s finances. If more than one family member is going to be taking care of these items, then you may want to order more than one death certificate as often photocopies won’t suffice. It should be noted that there is typically a fee associated with more than one copy of the death certificate.

person signing a death certificate at Vitalchek office in Southern California

Why Do You Need a Death Certificate?

Securing a death certificate is an important material in helping family members move on from their loved one’s passing. Not only might it provide friends and family with a sense of closure in what it symbolizes, but it can also help streamline the following processes:

  • The ability to remarry if you are a widow or widower
  • Claim assets and benefits
  • Close financial accounts
  • Receive insurance
  • Receive pension
  • Settle assets
  • Organize funeral service

Who Can Secure a Death Certificate?

Not everyone has the authority to secure a death certificate of an individual. There will be different requirements according to every state, but generally death certificates are considered part of the public domain. This means that anyone connected to the individual in some capacity can get a death certificate. However, authorized copies are a little different and must be obtained from a specific source in order to prevent fraud and misuse.

photo of blank death certificate form

Where Can You Order a Death Certificate From?

You can order death certificates from the following avenues:

  • Funeral providers like Opal Cremation
  • Third-party platforms, including VitalChek and for LA County residents
  • The state in which the resident passed—for example, for California residents

How Long Does it Take to Receive a Death Certificate?

After the death registration and request for the certificate, it generally takes about a month to get the certificate. The reason why it’s not immediate is so the physician can provide an explanation for the death. Opal Cremation has a way to expedite this process for no additional cost, as part of our all-inclusive packages.

Opal Cremation is happy to help families in securing the death certificate and with our cremation packages, the cost of copies is covered. Having a death certificate on hand can help not only with the grieving process and capacity to move on, but it can also help with many of the procedures that take place following a death. For more information on death certificates and how Opal Cremation secures them, reach out to us at [email protected] or give us a call at (888) 263-2299.

Do you have more questions about the cremation and funeral arrangement process? Opal Cremation is happy to walk you through step-by-step about what’s expected and how to go about starting to make plans. Compassionate professionals are eagerly awaiting your call and will provide you with all of the information you need about Opal Cremation services.

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