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Who Needs Death Certificates and Why?

Video Transcript

Death certificates are needed by financial institutions, banks, vehicle information, 401k retirement plans, and life insurance companies. The Social Security Administration is notified by the funeral director, but any other type of financial institution, especially if the account is solely in the deceased’s name, needs a death certificate. It could also be needed to apply for veteran benefits that might apply to the veteran.

Answers from Other Funeral Directors Around the United States:

Next of kin and any person, agency, or entity requiring or needing an acknowledgement of passing will need a death certificate.

- C. A. Bankston
Funeral Director in Fort Worth, TX


Many people and organizations will require a death certificate as legal proof of someone’s death. Entities that may require a death certificate with the cause of death include life insurance (one for each policy), annuities (one for each investment), retirement benefits including pensions, the Veteran’s Administration, insured loans, credit card claims, and personal family records. Entities that may require a death certificate without the cause of death may include trusts, investments in stocks, bonds, 401K, and the IRA, a transfer of vehicles, a property transfer, banks, credit unions, income tax, attorneys, cell phone contracts, and qualifying for “bereavement time” with employers.

- Jessica Watts
Funeral Director in Jacksonville, FL


Usually banks and insurance companies will require certified copies. It is best to speak with an estate attorney to get a better idea of who requires a certified copy and who will accept a copy. Some areas require a certified copy for cremation.

- Michael Sollitto
Funeral Director in Charlotte, NC


The legal next of kin will need a death certificate for claiming life insurance and pensions, and settling estates, Medicaid, and veterans’ benefits. Social Security is contacted electronically when the funeral director files the death certificate.

- Laura Anderson
Funeral Director in Minneapolis, MN