What to Know About Death Certificates

Military photo and death certificate.


When a family member dies, you face another challenge in an already difficult time—carrying out their final wishes and planning a funeral or memorial service. That, unfortunately, comes with logistics and paperwork, including obtaining a death certificate. Your grief may feel like all the proof you need of your loved one’s passing, but many institutions will require an official death certificate in order to close accounts and change vital records.


Since 1862, Chapman Funerals & Cremations has helped families in Massachusetts make sure all their needs are taken care of when a loved one passes. These days, that means filling out paperwork on a computer rather than with quill and ink, but we still take care of each process for you, to help lessen the amount of stress in planning.


Why Do I Need a Death Certificate?

There are many institutions that will still assume your loved one is still alive, and those organizations must know of their passing as well—for example, to inform their credit card company, or to file for benefits from their life insurance company.


You will also need a death certificate for things such as making plans for their estate, filing final tax returns, and handling retirement plans, military benefits, and pensions, some of which may need to transfer over to a beneficiary. A death certificate will also allow you to remove their name from joint accounts, or to transfer property to another person. And if your loved one paid taxes, the certificate will serve another need—to inform the IRS.


Before Your Loved One Arrives at Chapman

Massachusetts now uses an electronic death registration system for all deaths occurring in the state. If your loved one is taken to the medical examiner, their office will automatically generate a death certificate, which is then filed with the city clerk.


The death certificate will be filed in the city or town where the death occurred and the city or town where the deceased lived. The medical examiner’s office will enter the medical information onto the death certificate and send it electronically to Chapman.


If the final cause of death has yet to be determined, the death record is considered pending. Some insurance and banking companies won’t accept a death certificate if it is still listed as pending.If your loved one comes straight into the care of our funeral home, a funeral director at Chapman Funerals will help you.


When Your Loved One is Taken into Our Care

At Chapman Funerals & Cremations, one of our funeral directors will meet with the family to discuss the necessary information required for the death certificate, such as:

  • Date of birth
  • Marital status
  • Occupation
  • Address
  • Any other relevant information

Our funeral director will then obtain a burial or cremation permit, and the death certificate will be electronically filed with the city or town clerk where the death occurred. We will then obtain copies of the death certificate for the family.


In Massachusetts, funeral directors are required to notify Social Security of a death. This ensures that anyone receiving Social Security payments does not continue to receive payments following their passing.


How Many Certificates Do I Need?

We recommend that at least five certified copies of the death certificate be requested initially, and more can be requested later. A funeral director will be able to help you determine if you will need more. Each certified copy comes with a small fee.


Easing the Burden of Loss

When a death impacts a family, so many things need to be taken care of immediately, while a family is still coming to terms with their loss. During this difficult time, we make sure everything is taken care of, so you can focus on the details that are most important to you and your family. From Falmouth, West Falmouth, Mashpee, Martha's Vineyard, Wareham, Harwich, Yarmouth, Marstons Mills, Nantucket, Bridgewater, to East Bridgewater – we are close by to help.


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