Providing Peace Of Mind
For You And Your Family

Where to get a death certificate and what to do next

On Behalf of | Dec 1, 2023 | Estate Administration And Probate |

Losing a loved one can be very difficult, but there’s still a lot of work that has to be done to settle their estate – and the “business” of wrapping up their final affairs generally starts with obtaining a death certificate.

A death certificate is typically prepared and signed by a medical examiner, sometimes with the assistance of a funeral director. Then, it is recorded in the same office that keeps track of birth certificates, which is (in this state) the Virginia Department of Health. It serves as the official documentation of someone’s death.

Where can you get a copy of a death certificate?

A certified copy of a death certificate is critical for a number of things that you’ll have to do if you’re the executor of your loved one’s estate. Typically, you can order certified copies either from the Department of Health directly or through the funeral home you use for your loved one’s services. If you’re going through the Department of Health, you will need to provide proof of identification, preferably your state photo ID or driver’s license. Keep in mind, however, that obtaining the copies you need can take a few weeks, so you will need to be patient.

Why do you need copies of the death certificate?

It’s wise to have several certified copies because you will typically need them in order to make certain notifications and accomplish certain tasks. Typically, death certificates are needed to:

  • Establish that the deceased has passed and open probate.
  • File a claim for the deceased’s life insurance.
  • Close the deceased’s bank accounts and investment accounts.
  • Notify any government agencies, including the Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Notify mortgage lenders, credit card companies and other creditors of the death.
  • Transfer any vehicles that were in the deceased’s name to another party or the estate.

Because obtaining all the necessary copies of a death certificate can be expensive, make sure that you keep the receipt so that it can be submitted to the estate for reimbursement.

When a loved one has passed, it can be very difficult to understand everything that needs to be done. Seeking experienced legal guidance can help.