Determining The Amount Of Death Certificates That You Need

While making arrangements for a loved one's funeral, you will be asked about the total amount of death certificates that you need. It is a question that can catch you off guard, but is something you must keep in mind when planning a funeral. The funeral home will provide you with a certified death certificate, but you must pay for each one. In order to determine how many you need, consider the following things.

Financial Accounts

Any account that your loved one has with a bank should require a death certificate to transfer the account into another person's name. Keep in mind that you'll need one certificate for each bank they did business with, not each account. These types of accounts can include

  • Savings accounts
  • Checking accounts
  • Mortgages
  • Auto loans

Don't forget about safety deposit boxes either. If they had one at the same bank as another account, then everything should be fine.

Insurance Policies

If there is money that needs to be collected from your love one's life insurance plan, you'll also need to prove that the death occurred by providing a death certificate. You can contact their insurance company in order to figure out where the death certificate must be mailed to, with the required paperwork as well. For multiple life insurance policies, you might need a copy of the death certificate for each policy, even if all policies are with the same company.

Retirement Accounts

An IRA or 401K will need the death certificate for the account's beneficiary to get paid. The employer that set up the 401K can provide more information on how to close the account, and the bank managing the IRA will guide you through closing that account as well. It is typically referred to as an IRA rollover.


Any stocks that your loved one had will need to need to be transferred to their beneficiary, and it will require the death certificate to do so. Stocks do not have to be cashed out when they are transferred after a death. They can still be held onto by the beneficiary until they are ready to cash them out.

Tax Returns

A final tax return will need to be filed for the tax year that the death occurred in. If your loved one was owed money by the IRS, you will be able to claim their refund by proving their death with the certificate.

If you are still not sure how many death certificates you need, ask the funeral home director to give you a recommendation to go with.