Death Certificates. Cremation authorization. Permits etc…

Over the last couple of months I have noticed in my stats just how much death certificates have been searched for as well as cremation authorizations and questions about who gets a death cert. And who has to sign crem authorizations.
I have also been dealing with similar issues at work…
So…and I know I have blogged several times about death certificates but I will again.
Death certificates are PUBLIC RECORD. Which means ANYONE can obtain a death certificate on anyone. You will have to pay the clerk where the death certificate is filed. It can also be somewhat tricky to find out where or what clerk the d/c is filed at. Sometimes. I say sometimes because some cities do not have their own clerk. So if no clerk then it would be filed at the county. That is the city clerk or county clerk where the person passed.
Now…I cannot speak for all funeral homes but in my experience the funeral home will only give the d/c’s that we go get for the family to the the ‘informant’ or next of kin. They are the ones who typically are paying for the d/c’s anyway……we certainly are not going to give any to someone else who has not paid! The only way we would give one to someone else is if the person who is next of kin or informant says it is OK. So instead of being a pain in the ass and treating the funeral home staff like shit because you want a d/c and next of kin says no! Do everyone a favor and go get it yourself!
As far as cremation authorizations go….. the legal next if kin must sign the cremation authorization! No if ands or buts about it. Again, this is how it is in my State. If the deceased was married then the spouse must sign it. If they had been separated for 5 years, 10 years, 40 years….etc… and are not legally divorced, that person MUST still sign!!!!! If there is a girl/ boy friend and they have been together for several years but the deceased was still married…then that person is still the legal next of kin!! If the deceased was widowed or divorced and has children over the age of 18 then the children sign! If there is one child then only that child has to sign, if there are two then two need to sign, if three then only the majority need to sign, if four then again only the majority, etc… if no children then siblings are to sign, and it goes the same as children, the majority only need to sign. So if there are 3 siblings for example and two wanted cremation and one didn’t, majority rules. This is not the funeral home rules these are State Law. So again, no use in fighting with the funeral won’t win!
Now…as far as actually getting that body cremated. Yes, that authorization is a must but so is an approval from the medical examiner, again this is how my State does it. Once we have the d/c signed by the doctor, we must present it to the medical examiner with a permit for cremation. The medical examiner  then approves (or denies, but rarely) the permit. The medical examiner signs it, we send it to crematory with the authorization the next of kin signed then the crematory will cremate that body…
Also any social security benefits will go to the spouse or a dependant child.  No one else. It doesn’t matter if you lived with someone for years, you will not get it. As far as life insurance benefits, if you are not the beneficiary on the policy, then you get nothing. If you were married and either divorced or separated and did not change the beneficiary on your policy then it will go to the person who is still listed!! So be sure to change your beneficiary if you get divorced or separated! Also just because you know that your spouse/boyfriend/ parent/sibling had a life ins policy but you do not have a name and policy number…..we cannot get that info for you! There is that thing called the Privacy Law. So if you are being told that you can not get info what makes you think we can? Even if you only have a name of the insurance company, chances that we will be able to get all the info you want us slim. We “may” be able to report death because we have the social security number but the insurance company is not going to release who the beneficiary is to us. They will more than likely say that they will notify the beneficiary.
I also wanted to point out that we do not have access to some funeral home super database where we can type in a name and it will tell us which funeral home that person I at or will be at! I cannot tell you how many times I get calls asking if we have so and so at our funeral home!
When I say, “no we do not.” The person will ask, “could you please tell me which funeral home he /she is at?” Ummmmm, No! Usually we will TRY to say that we have Noway of knowing where they are at, but they keep saying…can’t you look it up? The only place I can look it up is the same place everyone else can, the internet, type in the persons name and if the family did a death notice in paper it should appear or if the funeral home posted it on their website. If they have not done either than it will not appear. Or it hasn’t been done yet. Or you can just hang up the phone and call other funeral homes in the area!!!!!!
I’m not sure  about other funeral homes but when you order prayer cards we have a set price for so many cards, if you want to order more than you can. Typically we will not charge for more if you happen to run out during visitation/funeral service. We will just print more and leave it at that. But occasionally a family will want something special dine in the cards that we may not be able to do and we have to have a printed do them. When that happens we will have more than they standard amount printed but there are times when they will still run out and it is impossible for yes to get anymore. The family us aware if this because we tell them at arrangement time when they decide to do something other than what we are able to do at the funeral home. We tell them “if you run out, you run out, we will not be able to get anymore, so you can order and pay for lots if extras you may not need or just order the standard amount.” Well when a family runs out, nine time out if ten we will get asked by the family “we ran out if prayer cards, could you put some more out?” Of course if there are none left..we can’t and guest who gets pissy? Or if a visitor of the families sees there are none left they will ask the staff. When we we tell them there are no more, they are just appalled. Just the other day this happened to me. A woman and her younger daughter asked if they could have a prayer card because they were all gone from the too . When they were told there want anymore I thought for sure thus woman was gonna implode! And as sh walked away, stomping….I heard her say, loudly I might ad, “are you fucking kidding me…there are no prayer cards left?!?” The funeral home was packed with people but she didn’t care..,she just wanted
one of those cards! I was walking the otherway as she was continuing her rant walking back into the chapel, and there stood her daughter with a look of horror and embarrassment on her face, she was probably 15 /16 years old.


4 Responses to “Death Certificates. Cremation authorization. Permits etc…”

  1. What happens if a there are three siblings and two won’t sign the cremation papers?

    • In the State in which I live (some States have different laws) majority rules. So in this case at least two out of the three must sign the authorization for cremation. If you don’t have the majority, then the cremation cannot take place, even if cremation was the wishes of the deceased. There is papers that can be drawn up prior to death to override this, but it must be done by the person who wants to be cremated. This is why pre planning is important (You do not have to pre pay but you can pre plan).

  2. AdminAsst Says:

    I love those phone calls for other funeral homes. I will get “Oh isn’t this Jones and Smith Funeral Home? Do you have their phone number?” Or I love the calls from people “My aunt died in 1980 and I wanted to know what cemetery she’s buried in.” Umm ask a family member. Our files for that far back are located in a creepy, dusty attic with lots of cob webbs. We don’t have any files on the computer that far back. Ugh.

    We also get calls from people wanting certified copies whether they are family members or non family members.We sometimes have ex spouses call looking for certifieds. Or I should say, they call wanting us to get them certifieds. In cases like that I tell them they need to contact a city clerk’s office to get them. We’re not getting invovled in that. We get what the family wants and that’s it.

    • Yep!! I never realized just how many families do not get along to the point of being so downright sneaky and mean. Then when they don’t get there way from us, they get an attitude with us! Like I am gonna change my mind just because you are now being a bitch.. no! And when you tell them to go to the city clerk because they can go get them themselves because anyone can get them…they say, “can’t you people just go for me”? We tell them if we do go (which if we did it would only be for the next if kin) we need the money for the d/c’s first and depending on where it us ruled, we charge for doing it. Those who are not being sneaky will usually say oh okay I didn’t know I could go get one, thank you.” Those who are trying to get a d/c when they are going behind the families back will give us a hard time about us not doing it for them…and I’m pretty sure its because they want to be able to pass the blame on to us if/when the family asks where they got that d/c from?

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