how many copies of a death certificate should I get

How Many Copies of a Death Certificate do I Need to Order?

In February 24, 2017

When it comes to the loss of a loved one, many people are unprepared for the next steps they’ll need to take. Questions like “What accounts will I need to close?” and “How many copies of a death certificate do I need?” come as afterthoughts when dealing with grief and closing out estates. Having vital records and other important documentation organized and in one spot is the first step in managing the accounts and personal records for a loved one after they’ve passed. VitalChek is here to help. We’ll tell you how to obtain a death certificate, how many copies of a death certificate you’ll need, and we’ll help you with what to do when a loved one passes away.

What to do when a loved one passes away 

When we lose someone we love, it’s sometimes hard to know what next steps to take. If you’re unsure of what to do next, check out our infographic on steps to take when a loved one passes away.  Getting family notified, funeral arrangements made and assets secured will be your first steps, but taking care of financial and personal accounts will come next. Sometimes the process is easy and well organized, but in many cases it can be a confusing and lengthy process that involves acquiring an attorney and determining what accounts need closed out or which institutes need to be notified of death. Knowing how many copies of a death certificate you’ll need will be determined by what accounts need settled.


If the responsibilities of closing out accounts and estate matters has fallen to you, the first thing you’ll need to do is acquire a legal pronouncement of death. Once all personal matters have been taken care of,  you’ll have to task yourself with closing out accounts. In order to close out these accounts, you’ll need a death certificate to verify the account owner has passed, and that you have authorization to make decisions on those accounts.

How to obtain a death certificate 

You can check with your local or state vital records office to learn what the application process is near you. Be sure to read all requirements thoroughly as each state vital records office has different operating hours and rules. If you’re looking to obtain a death certificate from the convenience of your own  home, you can do so by visiting Through a secure online ordering and application system, you can order multiple certified copies of a death certificate with expedited copies sent right to your door.

How many copies of a death certificate do you need 

Some accounts, like social security, credit cards (via fax or scan), cell phone providers, DMV and some bank accounts will not require an actual certified copy on hand. Bring them the certified copy, and a photocopy they make themselves will suffice.


Establishments that will most likely require to keep a certified copy of a death certificate for their records:


  • Life insurance and health insurance companies
  • Stock certificates, bonds, treasury bills, certificates of deposit and money market accounts
  • 401ks, retirement plans, IRAs and pensions
  • Military benefits
  • Out of state bank accounts
  • Rental storage
  • Transfer of human remains (also the scattering of ashes in some states)
  • Title transfer of ownership of real estate and all motor vehicles
  • Burial and Funeral insurance
  • Federal and state tax returns


If you’ve gone through the unfortunate loss of a loved one, the legal processes after their passing can be daunting and confusing. Now that we’ve helped make it clear how to obtain a death certificate and how many copies of a death certificate you may need, we hope the process is a little bit easier on you.


  1. I ordered 200.00dollars worth and never got them! I can’t even get it to go to status. what sucks is I’m paying 315.00 dollar car payment, insurance on my car, a month because I don’t have proof my husband dead. I’m paying a life insurance on a dead guy….cause I have no proof, I’m not getting my husbands ssdi at 70% I can not get because of no proof….and ssdi is refusing his whole check because he died the didn’t get proof cause I cant get it , but they are still taking it. this don’t make sense,,,,WHY!!!!!!!???????

    1. Good morning, Christine. We’re sorry for your loss and we’re sorry to hear that you have not received the death certificates that you need. If you ordered them through VitalChek, please email us at and will be happy to look into this for you. If you ordered by other means, we suggest you contact that order processor for an update on the status of your order. We hope this issue gets resolved promptly for you.

  2. While making funeral arrangements, after the death of my wife, two weeks ago, today, I ordered my death certificates, thru funeral home, and I picked them up, from funeral home, yesterday!
    It took 11 days, to get my wife’s death certificates!

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