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How to Handle the Death Certificate of the Estate’s Decedent

A death certificate is an essential document for an estate administrator. Without proof that the decedent actually died, most of the tasks of an administrator would be impossible. But be aware that this document can be dangerous in the wrong hands.

Be sure to get a number of certified copies of the death certificate to give to anyone that may need to know about this particular death. Copies of the death certificate will need to be sent to the following:

  • The probate court, if probate is necessary.

  • The taxing authorities.

  • Each of the decedent’s life insurance companies.

Copies will also be needed in order to collect other death benefits.

You will have to pay a small price for each copy, but the convenience of having them on hand far outweighs that cost. Usually the funeral director obtains them for you. If not, you can get them through the appropriate office in your state. This may be the county clerk’s office or the state department of vital statistics.

Death certificates are a matter of public record. Unfortunately, they are also full of information that appeals to identity thieves. You cannot prevent identity thieves from obtaining this information directly from state authorities, but don’t make it easier for them by handing them the information they need. Make sure that anyone asking you for a death certificate has a valid reason for needing one before you hand it over.

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