Death certificates are legal vital records. They are required to prove death in cases of estate matters, social security benefits, tax matters and genealogical research. Sometimes errors occur when creating the records and must be corrected or amended. Sections that may be changed include medical, funeral and biographical details. Each state has varying laws on the procedures and time frame to change death certificates. Contact your state's Department of Health Services for current procedures, forms and fees associated with making a change.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Original death certificate
- Copy of original certificate with changes
Identify the incorrect medical information on the death certificate. Incorrect medical information such as cause of death and manner of death may be corrected or amended in several ways. Some states require the pathologist or physician who signed the death certificate to submit documentation to prove a change needs to be made. This documentation should include the decedent's full name used on the certificate, date and place of death, description of the error, the corrected or amended information and a signature by the pathologist or physician.
Identify incorrect funeral information. Some states do not require a funeral home director to submit documentation if the error is minor such as a misspelling. In those cases, the informant, or person who filled out the death certificate, may request the changes.
In cases where the error is in need of a major correction or amendment, a funeral director may need to complete the state's required forms for changing and amending a death certificate.
Identify incorrect biographical information. In cases where a name is misspelled or a date was incorrectly recorded, many states require the informant, or immediate family member, to submit the change request. Some states require a death certificate change form be completed while others require a letter from the informant or immediate family member. Many times the state will ask for a photocopy of the death certificate with changes noted on the certificate to accompany the change form or letter.
Tips and warnings
- Every state has a different procedure for correcting and amending death certificate errors. Contact your state's Department of Health Services to inquire about the process. Most states have the procedures, fees and forms available on their websites.
- Some states require a court order to correct or amend death certificate information.
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