Death Certificates

Learn some of the reasons you might need a death certificate and what information those certificates show.

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Death Certificates

Death Certificates in the Public Records

No one likes to think about losing a loved one, but it happens every day around the world. When you want to find out if someone is still alive or handle some of the issues that arise after a death, you need a copy of the death certificate. This is an official document that different departments have. You can request a copy when a loved one dies from the funeral home. Depending on your state, that copy can cost quite a bit. An easier way to view death certificates is through searches of the public records that websites offer online.

What Can You View on a Death Certificate?

The information available to you on a death certificate can depend on where you live. It typically lists the name and age of the individual and the date of his or her death. You can usually view a cause of death too. Certificates available from different states tend to look quite similar. It puts the name of the deceased at the top and has lines that let you view other information. Those sections and lines may list the name of the deceased’s spouse and occupation too. You can also see where the deceased as moved and the official cause of death.

Confidential Information

New York is a state that can limit the information available on a public death certificate to protect the confidentiality of the deceased. During the HIV epidemic, it removed the cause of death on those certificates if it was due to natural causes. Other states list only a few general causes of death, including natural causes, murder, suicide or accidental death. If you come across a death certificate that lists a general cause of death, you have the right to request a long version of that certificate. Most states only allow family members and law enforcement to view those certificates.

Death Certificates of Children

When you do family research and find that some of your relatives passed away at a young age, you might want to pull their death certificates to find out more. You can only view those certificates if you are an immediate family member. Most states have rules in place to protect the confidentiality of children. Unless you can prove that you are a direct family member, you cannot view the child’s death certificate. You usually need to submit an official request. Some states charge a small fee to pull that certificate and make a copy.

Why Use Death Certificates?

The days and weeks after a loved one passes away are hard, but you need to do a few things as you deal with your feelings. You typically need to open a probate case, which is where the court gives the deceased’s property to others. The court will require a copy of the death certificate to open probate. If the deceased left behind a will, you need a copy of that too. Utility companies, the mortgage lender and others will require copies of the death certificate also.

Finding Death Certificates on the Web

It’s much easier to find death certificates on the internet than you might think. All you need is a good public records search company that will give you access to those records. We found the top five sites that you can use and ranked them based on factors such as ease of use and how much they charge. Each site can help you find the death certificates of people who passed away decades ago and those who recently died. With those certificates, you can view the cause of death, the name and date of birth of the deceased, his or her spouse and other important information.

Our Top Ranked Public Records Sites 2020

Background Check Service

Score

Pros / Cons

Bottom Line

Site

0%
Database Size
5/5
Search Features
5/5
Cost
4.5/5
Customer Help
5/5

Our #1 choice for the best death certificate search site on the web is Archives.com. This service lets you search billions of records within seconds.

0%
Database Size
4/5
Search Features
5/5
Cost
4.5/5
Customer Help
4.5/5

Easy to use and has enough historical records data. Allows you to search through 20 billion records from 80 different countries.

0%
Database Size
4/5
Search Features
4.8/5
Cost
4/5
Customer Help
4.5/5

This site is generally a reliable source for discovering public records. Very user friendly but fairly expensive relative to Archives.

0%
Database Size
3.8/5
Search Features
4/5
Cost
4/5
Customer Help
3.5/5

A good source for genealogical records. Has genealogy guides and other resources that will help you dig deeper into your family’s past.

0%
Database Size
3/5
Search Features
4/5
Cost
4/5
Customer Help
3.5/5

Great for public records, but doesn’t have the same volume of birth and death records as some of it’s competitors.