The funeral director usually orders copies of death certificates for the family, so be prepared when asked how many you want. Death certificates are necessary for a number of important steps to be taken after the funeral.
Death certificates are required for making life insurance and annuity claims, changing title on property, closing or changing bank accounts, and financial transactions on behalf of the deceased. These important documents should be ordered while making other funeral arrangements, as their preparation can take two weeks or more.
In my father-in-law’s case, the death certificate didn’t arrive until eight weeks after he died. It should have been a straightforward process because he died in the hospital. But because he was transported back and forth between hospital and rehabilitation facility over seven weeks, the Office of the Medical Investigator needed to check the medical records to make sure there was no foul play involved. People went on vacation. Things just got stuck. It happens.
The family should carefully consider the number of certified copies of the death certificate to order. People with simple estates may only need a few, maybe five to ten, but those with complex financial situations may need as many as two dozen. Consult with the deceased’s financial advisor to get an idea of the best number to order.
While some organizations accept photocopies of the document, it’s much easier to order extras than go back and obtain more originals. The cost per document varies by state.