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  • Writer's pictureSommer Miller, Esq.

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



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. As your local Pennsylvania will lawyer, I'm here to guide you through the process to make it as straightforward as possible.


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.


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. Our Pennsylvania will lawyers 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.


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 Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania will 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 by clicking the link below to schedule a consultation.




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