Obtaining Copies of a Death Certificate in New York City

*Note: Our firm does not provide copies of death certificates. We are a New York estate planning, trust administration, and probate law firm.

When a loved one dies, the person named executor for the deceased’s estate needs multiple copies of the death certificate to close out the estate, withdraw funds from or close accounts, collect insurance or other post-death benefits, handle transactions for any motor vehicles or real estate, prepare taxes, and so forth. Obtaining multiple copies of a death certificate

There are many companies that prey on the emotional vulnerability of an individual who has lost their loved one, and they charge exorbitant fees to assist you in getting copies of a death certificate. If your deceased loved one resided in any of the New York City boroughs—Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, Staten Island, or Manhattan—our New York probate lawyers can help you obtain copies without being taken advantage of.

Why You Need Multiple Copies of a Death Certificate

A copy of a death certificate can’t be a photocopy or copies you print at home. Many institutions, such as insurance companies, banks, and government agencies, require a certified copy of the death certificate before they allow the executor to handle the deceased person’s accounts and property.

Initially, a death certificate is issued by the entity responsible for handling your loved one’s remains. This is often someone at the funeral home managing your loved one’s burial, a representative of a company handling cremation, or sometimes, a medical institution or medical examiner. The certificate has to be signed by a doctor or coroner and must be approved by the deceased person’s relative or executor.

Only certain people are allowed to obtain a death certificate, including:

  • An executor or other person named to handle the decedent’s estate
  • A parent or legal guardian
  • A spouse, grandparent, or other close relative
  • Lawyers
  • Medical personnel

While you can request and pay for multiple copies from the funeral home when your loved one dies, you will likely need to request additional certified copies to settle the deceased’s estate.

How to Get Copies of a Death Certificate in NYC

In New York City, certified copies of a death certificate are issued by the Health Department. You can order certified copies online using VitalChek ($15 each, plus processing fees). This is the only authorized online vendor that processes orders for death certificates.

If you order death certificates through an unauthorized vendor, you may pay inflated fees to a fraudulent company and expose the deceased's personal information.

You can also order copies by mail and in person (appointments are required). You will need to provide a form of acceptable identification to prove you are an appropriate/acceptable person allowed to receive a death certificate. You may also need to provide proof of address.

Settling a loved one’s estate through probate often takes a great deal of time, and part of the delay can come from having to request additional copies of the death certificate. Even if you request them online, the wait can be as long as 10-12 weeks or longer due to office staff shortages.

Our New York Probate Lawyer Can Help You

As an estate administrator in New York City, you must promptly acquire a death certificate. Do not postpone the submission of your request. If you encounter challenges with the paperwork or need guidance to understand New York’s legal requirements for estate execution, seek assistance from a New York probate lawyer.

Planning your estate before you die with documents such as a will and trust can help the executor avoid problems with wrapping up your affairs after you’re gone. Even someone with little to no assets should have a will in place to direct how things should be handled when they die. But even if a loved one dies intestate (without a will), working with an experienced New York City probate lawyer can help an executor avoid costly mistakes when wrapping up the details of someone’s life.
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