Making funeral arrangements is never easy. Especially when we’re in shock and strangers are asking us what seems like a million questions. Just repeating a spouse’s middle name or date of birth is enough to send us into a fresh torrent of tears. Or, you could be the only sibling of a brother or sister you haven’t seen in some time. There might be questions to which you don’t have the answers.
That’s why it’s always good to have certain information on hand. Below is the information you will need before a death certificate can be filed. Not having this information handy can delay the process and even worse, giving incorrect information can result in an amended death certificate having to be filed, which can delay the settling of affairs, such as life insurance policies.
The best thing to do is gather this information ahead of time and keep it in a safe place with other important papers.
Social Security Number is very important. You won’t be able to file the death certificate without this. If possible take a copy of the deceased’s social security card to the funeral home. If not, just try to have that and the rest of the pertinent information typed or printed. It will save you the trouble of answering a lot of questions when you can barely talk and it helps ensure the accuracy of the certified death certificate.
You’ll need to know the occupation at time of death. If the deceased was retired, that’s all the information you’ll need. If he owned his own car repair business, for example, the occupation would be Owner and the kind of business or industry would be Auto Shop. Of course, the funeral home is very helpful with this so as long as you know the basics pertaining to your loved one, they will do the rest.
You’ll need to know the residence address of the deceased including the county and the zip code. You’ll need the name of the surviving spouse, including maiden name if female. If this is not you, and you are helping someone else with the chore of filing the death certificate, you’ll need this information. You’ll also need the name of the parents, including the mother’s maiden name. This can be tricky if the deceased is your spouse and his parents are deceased also. Again, it will go much smoother if you gather this information ahead of time.
Place of burial or disposition: If your loved one is going to be buried in a cemetery, you’ll need the name of the cemetery as well as the exact location of the plot, usually Section, Lot and Space. There is an Unknown box that can be checked here if you just can’t get that information, but think of future generations here. This might be the only clue to another relative someday who might be looking for the grave. By the same token, if he or she is to be cremated or the body will be donated, there is a space for this as well.
The funeral home will actually file the death certificate with the Bureau of Vital Statistics. Ask if you can preview a sample of the completed death certificate before the funeral home sends it to be certified with the Bureau of Vital Statistics. Don’t just scan this sample. Eyeball every single entry, paying special attention to all the numbers: social security number, birth date and death date. It will take a lot more time and aggravation to have this corrected later.
Just taking a few minutes with your spouse or loved one can save you a lot of time and heartache later. Remember to keep this information updated and with the rest of your important papers.