A Certified Death Certificate is necessary before anything can be done. A death certificate can be obtained through a Funeral Director. It is a good idea to obtain multiple copies of a death certificate as most agencies require a certified certificate and not a photocopy.
The funeral home will obtain certified copies of the death certificate when we file the original death certificate with the appropriate health department. This list has been prepared as a tool to assist you in determining how many copies you would like to order. Please carefully read through this list and let your funeral director know the number of copies you would like to order. Should you need more copies in the future. we can assist you in obtaining them when the need arises.
- Federal Income Tax return for the year of death - If there is a surviving spouse (s)he may be eligible to file a joint tax return for the year following the year of death. You may also need a certified copy for the year prior to death IFa return for that year has not yet been filed.
- State Income Tax return- Same basic guidelines apply as for Federal Tax Return.
- Probate- To process the will and probate the estate.
- Trusts- Living trusts and other estate planning vehicles.
- Social Security Administration- You should contact the Social Security Administration at 800-772-1213 to cancel direct deposit or monthly checks as well as to apply for benefits.
- Titles- Any title the has the deceased's name on it, in any form, including house, car, vacation property, rental/investment property, real estate, etc.
- Banks- All banks need to see an original certified copy. It is at their discretion whether they retain the original, photocopy and return the original or ask for more copies. General Rule: Obtain one certified copy for checking and savings account and one copy for each additional account in the same bank. i.e. IRA, money market, CD, etc.
- Retirement Accounts- Pension, Profit Sharing, 401 K, Government Annuity all require a certified copy to pay benefits to the beneficiary.
- Life Insurance- One certified copy for each life insurance policy.
- Investments - Stocks, bonds, mutual funds, etc. Similar to bank accounts. One copy for each account in any given portfolio. If the deceased had possession of stock certificates outright, you will need one copy for each stock, regardless of the number of shares held.
You may want to order a couple of extra certified copies of the death certificate since it is common to overlook some items when reviewing this list.