A Helpful Guide to Death Certificates

Posted on January 27th, 2024 by under Funeral Home
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After a death, family members are often left with the daunting task of paperwork and legal formalities. Accounts need to be closed, things need to be sold, and assets need to be released. In order to do many of these things, you will need a death certificate. At Wing-Bain Funeral Home, we have put together this guide on death certificates to help Chippewa and Yellow Medicine County families in their time of need.

What are death certificates?

A death certificate is an official document that states the date, time, and cause of death. When you meet with the funeral director, they collect the information needed and file the death certificate with the state where the death occurred. The certificate also gets sent to your loved one’s doctor or the medical examiner and the medical professional signs the document with the cause of death.

How much are death certificates?

In Minnesota, the first copy is $13 and each additional is $6. Each state is different and your county’s registrar office can answer what the local cost is.

What are death certificates used for?

Death certificates are needed for when you have to legally prove a death. This is usually needed when referring to large monetary transactions like accessing a life insurance policy or retirement account. Closing bank accounts, real estate transactions, and transferring vehicle titles are other times where you would be asked to provide a death certificate. Other examples may include final tax returns, closing stocks and bonds, or military benefits.

When asked to provide a death certificate, it is important to ask whether they need one of the original, certified certificates or if a copy would be accepted. Larger transactions, like life insurance, may need a certified where closing a bank account may just require a copy.

How many death certificates should I order?

This depends on what assets your loved one has, but it generally is better to have too many than too few. For example, someone who is 90 years old and has a smaller financial portfolio may only need a few whereas some who dies in their 40’s and has investments, property, or multiple credit cards may need 15. On average, people order six to ten copies. However, you can order more from the state if needed at a later date; proof of tangible interest will be required.

What about social security?

In Minnesota, Social Security is notified electronically when the funeral director files the death certificate, if it is filed with the social security number. Although Social Security will be aware of the death, they suggest that families call to confirm or discuss if there are further benefits.

The staff at Wing-Bain Funeral Home understands that this can be a confusing time and is happy to help with any questions you may have.


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