The Death Certificate
The Death Certificate
Michael Largo (Author) gives expert video advice on: What is a 'death certificate'?; When is a death certificate filed?; Who is responsible for filing a death certificate? and more...
What is a 'death certificate'?
A death certificate is legal document that certifies the person no longer is among the living. There are usually at least two times you'll get your name in print -- birth certificate and death certificate. A death certificate is a document that was developed so that dead people couldn't vote or receive benefits, which was very common in the old days. A death certificate is a legal documentation, usually filled out by the attending physician or the coroner, that includes not only the name, the birth, where the person resided, occupation, marital status, and gives you at least 2 or 3 different options of what caused the death -- primary, secondary, and things that might have led up to it. A death certificate is an official document that is required to receive insurance and other things that are necessary to make it a legal death.
Who is responsible for filing a death certificate?
A death certificate is usually deemed by the attending physician or the coroner. In some instances, the police can even sign a death certificate. But it's usually done by the funeral director, who takes care of the details of filing it with the local registrar. In some cases, if the person has been missing for a number of years and can't be found, a death certificate will be ordered by the court.
When did keeping track of deaths begin?
One of the first things that the U.S. government did in 1798 was start what they call the Marine Hospital Service. That was the idea, to keep track of sailors and seamen, the most important part of the economy. That turned into the Public Health Service, which not only kept track of seamen's death, but also quarantine. They were in charge of examining immigrants' teeth and making sure that they were healthy before they were allowed into the country. That turned into, eventually, the Bureau of Vital Statistics, and they issue a weekly report called the Morbidity and Mortality Sample that tells the trends dying in America.
Which descriptions of death are no longer allowed on a death certificate?
The death certificate has a number of codes, over 3000 different codes, that can be filled in as the cause of death. Since 1951 no death certificate was accepted if it used old age or debility as a cause of death. Old age was basically outlawed as a way to die and it had to be used with any of the other 3000 causes that may have led up to that end. Another thing that is no longer accepted which was very popular was an almost poetic descriptions of death was people that died of nostalgia or heart break. It was very common in the early 1800's and even up until the beginning of the 20th century. Those are no longer acceptable as legitimate causes of death.
Can I get a copy of a celebrity's death certificate?
Death certificates are theoretically public documents that anyone are able to retrieve. Most death certificates are held at the local registrar, or the county clerk, and usually a non-relative can request one. However, since the Patriot Act, many of the records have been sealed to prevent terrorists from getting information. Some states are now called "closed states," where no death certificates can be obtained, unless it's over 50 years old.
What is the 'Dead Celebrity Bill'?
Well, there has been an effort in the New York State legislation to pass a new bill that will prevent anyone from writing anything about a celebrity, unless they have been dead for at least seventy years. This will basically put history in the hands of the state trustees of these celebrities, who are more interested in retaining the financial and economic value of the dead celebrity, than letting people know the true history of what happened.