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

Posted by Andrew Byers | Oct 11, 2023 | 0 Comments

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 Troy estate 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 Troy estate 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. In Michigan, death certificates are issued by city and county clerks. For example, if the deceased person passed away in Troy, you could obtain the death certificate from the City of Troy's clerk's office, the Oakland County Clerk in Pontiac, or the State of Michigan.
  • Gather Necessary Information: Typically, you'll need to provide:
    • Full name of the deceased.
    • Date and place of death.
  • 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.
  • In Michigan, funeral home staff often assist with obtaining the Death Certificate when they handled the deceased person's funeral or cremation.
  • A Certificate of Death issued in Michigan is a public record available to anyone willing to pay the fee to obtain a copy.

Seek Guidance from Your Troy Estate 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 Troy estate 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 at (248) 469-4261 to schedule a consultation or use the contact form on this website.

About the Author

Andrew Byers

Andrew Byers' elder law practice focuses on the legal needs of older clients and their families, and works with a variety of legal tools and techniques to meet the goals and objectives of the older client. Under this holistic approach, I handle estate and longevity planning issues and counsel cli...


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I help seniors and their families to prevent the devastating financial effects of long term care. I assist and represent clients in and from the entire metro Detroit area, including all communities in Oakland, Macomb, and Wayne Counties. In-person meetings with Andrew Byers are available at his office Monday through Friday. Video conferences over Zoom or Microsoft Teams are also available.

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