Death Certificates (Pending)

Hi everyone! So still blogging or trying to to blog from my phone! I have given up hope on ever fixing my home PC!!
So I have noticed (and as usual please excuse any spelling errors, I cannot stress enough just how much my phone does not get along with wordpress !!) But as I started to say, I’ve noticed in my stats that I get alot of traffic from people searching for info on death certificates and why a death cert may be ‘pending’ and who signs a death cert , etc…
i have wrote about it before but i figured I would write again alittle bit.
So when a person passes away the funeral home is responsible for getting the death cert. In order for us to do so we need certain information from the family and the doctor info from either the hospital at which the person passed away at, nursing home, hospice care, medical examiner. Sometimes the info will arrive with the deceased on a form that is filled out at hospital or by a hospice nurse etc. More so than not, no info is with the body. So we must contact the facility where the person passed. If at hospital we would call medical records and they ‘should’ have listed the doc who is signing. Same with a nursing home. With hospice we would usually have to call the hospice company and find out if we are bringing a death cert to them for one of their docs to sign or if they alteady have a death cert there that the doc will sign and we pick up. If the person died at home and not under hospice care then the medical examiner is contacted. If the person was not being treated by his/her family doc for any illness then that body would more than likely be transferred to the medical examiner for an autopsy. We would then get a death cert with the body that is signed by the medical examiner. Now even tho the death cert is signed when we get it from them, the rest is blank except for the persons name, date and time of death, place of death and either the cause of death or Pending. The pending status means that the medical examiner has not yet determined the exact cause of death. They are waiting on test results and autopsy findings. Now once we get the rest of the info from the family, such as the last known address of deceased, maiden name, mothers maiden name, fathers name, highest level of education, if deceased was a veteran, social security number, occupation, married, widowed, divorced or never married.. We must enter all that info onto the death cert (if we must take a death cert to be signed to a doctors office, typically we have to have that info filled in otherwise the doctor will not sign, they do not like signing a blank death cert) It is extremely important that all the above info is correct because making changes after it is filed is a pain in the ass! Once we have all the info typed on the death cert and the doctor or medical examiner has signed it and entered a cause of death or ‘pending’ status we take that death cert to the appropriate city clerks office and file it. Where I live, it depends on which city the person died in that determines what clerk it files at. It MUST be filed at the city clerks office ONLY! Certain cities that do not have their own clerks office, we MUST file at the County Clerks Office (the county in which the deceased passed in). When we are at the clerks office that is when we get the amount of certified death certs that the family wants. Each clerk has their own charge for death certs. For example; one city may charge $20 for the first cert d/c and $5 for every other cert d/c. When the family comes in for arrangements we let them know at that time how much they are. We DO NOT charge anything extra on top of those charges. We add the cost of the amount of death certs to the funeral home bill. However, we must present a check to the clerks office at the time we file the d/c. I’d say 99% of the time we file the d/c prior to the family paying their bill. We also must file the d/c within 72 hours. So when/if you have ever noticed on a funeral statement the statement is/should be itemized and under Cash Advance items it will list death certs. We pay for them up front and expect the family to pay their bill!! Now once the death cert has been filed the clerks office sends it off to the State, Vital Records Dept. So, if the family comes back later and says “ya know, we made an error and her address is wrong or her fathers name was this not that” or even worse, her date of birth or social security number is wrong. Usually if the social is wrong we will get a call from the social security office. We report death to social security …. but that’s all, we don’t have any other contact with them. So if there’s an error we have to call the clerk and see if they sent the d/c to the State. If they have then we now have to fill out an application to correct it. The application requires that we send proof of what needs correcting. If its date of birth then we needs a birth cert or drivers license. If a name was spelled wrong we need something showing correct name, if it was a fathers name or mothers we need something showing correct spelling. We also need the person who made the funeral arrangements (the informant that is listed on the d/c) drivers license. That person must sign the application and pay a charge of $50. We send the application with the required info and the $50 to the State. This can now take 3 months to 9 months or longer. At this point the funeral home has no control over the length of time it takes. We and the family are at the mercy of the State. If you received a d/c with a ‘pending’ status, that is how a pending d/c is amended as well. The difference is the funeral home has nothing to do with any of it until we get a call from the city clerk saying they received an amended d/c on someone. Once the medical examiner has concluded all autopsy findings and has determined cause of death they send that info to the State so the State can make the correction and enter the cause if death. The State then sends it to the clerks office. Even tho a d/c says pending on it we are still required to file that d/c. Sometimes the family even wants a cert pending d/c, I would personally wait for amended..not only will few places accept a pending d/c for any legal purposes but the family us still required to pay for them. So, having a pending d/c amended is a lot like having a d/c corrected. It is not the funeral home who is not getting that amended d/c for you, it is a waiting game. I cannot tell you hiw many times I have been yelled at because someonegas bewn wautung on an amended d/c!! I understand your frustration, but there is absolutely nothing the funeral home can do to get it any quicker.


10 Responses to “Death Certificates (Pending)”

  1. Hello there Bizz. I’m so sorry I haven’t been in touch. How are you doing?
    Lots of things been going on my end…
    Have you tried a hammer on your PC? lol
    Good to read your stories, a pleasure as always. Unfortunate to see how ridiculous some people are though. Hope to catch up soon Bizz. 🙂

    Thought of the day:- Winners never quit and quitters never win.

    • Hey there!! Funny thing is i was just thinking about you! How are you doing? Glad to see you back. And yes, several times i have thought about taking a hammer to my computer amongst other things! I have a friend of a friend who is a computer wiz but trying to get in touch with him and working around schedules is near impossible…
      Hope to hear from you again!!

  2. We also have online dc’s. We fill in the info, then fax the paperwork to the doctor. They sign and fax back to the state. We get an email saying the cert has been signed. We go online, pull up the signed dc, enter the information and send it on to the state. It is fantastically easy and is saving us a ton on gas money since we’re not driving all over town dropping off and picking up dc’s. Same with pending certs. When the final cause is available, we get an email and open up the relevant dc and enter cause of death and order final copies.

    • So lucky! I havent even heard any mention of them even starting that where i am… so how long does the whole process take compared to the old way? I dont know about you but our families are always in such a rush for the d/c…its usually one of the first questions they ask.

      • Admin Asst Says:

        If everything works out and the drs sign the dc’s in a timely manner, we could have certified copies the same day or the following day after the death. But I tell the FDs not to encourage families to expect them the same day. If I am rushed I’ll end up making a mistake and they’ll have to get the certifieds fixed so it’s not the best scenario to expect them the same day or following day. Most of the time the FDs will tell families that they will have them by the day of the service.

    • Admin Asst Says:

      Wow!! You are lucky that the Drs sign them online. None of the drs in our city will do it so we still have to have them fill out and sign the dc w/ the cause of death on the actual dc. It’s frustrating because they have been able to complete them online for about 4 years now but they won’t. There is only one dr (that I know of) who will complete the dc online. However, on the other side of the state, all the docs complete them online. It’s just in my city where they won’t.

  3. Admin Asst Says:

    Wow, where you are, you really have to jump through hoops w/ death certs. Where I am, we, the funeral home, file the death certificate online. They’ve even advanced it enough so Drs can complete the cause of death online (but very few of them do so we still have to run them to the doctor’s office). Fixing mistakes can be easy, as long as it’s within a 2 week period after the dc was filed. If it’s after 2 weeks you have to go to the town where the deceased died and have the mistake fixed there. The bigger city clerks know how to do it, the smaller town clerk offices often don’t so that takes longer.

    We can also obtain certified copies at any clerk’s office, not just from the city or town where the deceased died.

    Some border states are trying to implement similar ways of filing death certifcates online, but their state govts can’t seem to get their acts together to implement it.

    • is a pain in the ass!! I wish to God that we could be online to do the d/c’ would make things so much easier and less stressful! If there is a mistake on a d/c and we call the clerk and they havent sent it to the state yet most of them will fix it for us. But now alot of them are either charging us to fix it or are refusing and making us come get it, fix it and take it back to them.

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