Death certificate

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A death certificate is a record of an individual's death. It can include some valuable information such as a person's full name (if not previously known) along with the names of the child's parents, including the mother's maiden name.

United States Death Certificates

In the United States, a death certificate can come in two forms: official and unofficial. Copies can be obtained from the state office of vital records or the county's department of health that the person died in.

The unofficial death certificate is usually a computer printout of some of the data contained in an official death certificate. It will most likely contain the person's full name, full names of their parents (including mother's maiden name, if known), along with the county and state within which the person died. Some regions may also include the funeral home and place of interment.

An official death certificate is a legal copy of a person's death record. One important difference of this version as opposed to the unofficial copy is that it will often include the cause of death. In most US states this is often considered sensitive information and is often only granted to members of the family along with their descendants. The official copy can contain the same information as the unofficial copy along with who reported the death, what an autopsy has revealed (if one was done), and time of death. It can also state if the deceased was a veteran along with their social security number. An official death certificate is most often an exact copy of the original that is on file, printed on official government letterhead with the governing body's embossed seal or signed by an officiating person. These are very helpful to someone who is trying to keep track of ancestral medical information, since a lot of diseases and conditions can be hereditary.

Obtaining an unofficial copy of a death certificate commonly involves a small fee. An official copy will normally require a slightly higher fee, along with proof that the requester is a descendant of the individual on the death record. This can be done through a copy of a valid photo ID along with signed official request forms, depending on the governing body that holds the official record.

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