Death Certificate Guide



Death certifiates are used to close accounts and notify organizations about a person’s death. There is a great deal of confusion about how many certified copies you need. We’ve created this page to help you figure out how many you should order and give you an idea of what to expect.

Many people hear from friends, family and even their attorneys that they “will need 10 copies.” This is rarely the case. At one point in history, this was probably good counsel, however most places do not keep the certified death certificate anymore.

If you provided us with a social security number, the Social Security Administration was notified when we filed the death certificate.

The items listed below are guidelines for the original certified death certificates. In most cases, you go to the organization with an original, they take a copy and give you the original back.

Life Insurance

Many life insurance companies will require a death certifcate and retain it if the policy exceeds a certain amount.  Some may require one over $25k, others over $100k. Call your life insurance company to find out if they require an original or if they can take a scan/copy.

Real Estate

Real estate is one of the few things that almost certainly requires a certified death certificate. The county will use this to record the transfer and it usually is not returned.


It is a good idea to plan to give your attorney an original for their use. They may or may not return this to you, but they can use it to transfer a property deed or set up probate.


Banks no longer need an original. You walk into the bank with your original, they make a copy and return your certified original back to you. For example: There are accounts with Chase, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America – you will only need one death certificate for all of them. Walk in, hand them the original, they make a copy and hand it back, and you head to the next bank with it.

Credit Cards

Credit cards don’t require a death certificate at all.

Vehicles, cell phones, other property

All of these will only require a photocopy. Some institutions will require you to bring in an original so that they can make a copy, but all of them will send you on your way with your original.