How Long Does It Take To Get A Death Certificate (And Why)?

Exact Answer: A Week

A death certificate is a document stating that the person whose name is listed on it, has died. This certificate can be of two distinct types. The first type of death certificate is that which is issued by a doctor stating the time and reason behind a person’s death while the second type of death certificate s issued by the local government.

A death certificate can be of great use to a bereaving family. Such a certificate is essential to claim the deceased person’s bank account, pension, insurance amounts, tax refunds or any other issue of significance.

How Long Does It Take To Get A Death Certificate?

The time taken to issue death certificates varies with countries and sometimes within countries. For instance, in the United States of America, the time taken to issue a death certificate varies within the nation. It is different for different states. However, on a global basis, it is seen that most of the places are issued within a week of the deaths being reported.

In the states of Alabama, Arkansas and Nebraska, it would take approximately a day for the authorities to issue a death certificate. However, contrary to that, in the states of Connecticut, it would take as long as six weeks in minimum for the local administration to issue certificates.

However, in some other states like those of Arizona, Montana and West Virginia, it would take an average of two weeks for the authorities to act. States like Idaho, California and Massachusetts make the certificate available in two to four weeks.

There are also a few other states in the United States like South Carolina, South Dakota, New Hampshire and New Jersey which make it easier for the bereaved families to claim death certificates. These states make the certificate available within a day.

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The list of major states with their rime period of death certificate issuance is summarised below:

State of The United States Of AmericaTime Taken To Issue Death Certificate
Alabamawithin 24 hours
ArizonaA week
California3 to 4 weeks
Connecticut 6 to 8 weeks
Florida2 to 3 days
Hawaii10 days
Montana 2 to 3 weeks
New JerseyWithin 24 hours
New Mexico 3 to 5 days
New YorkNearly a week
North Dakota3 to 5 days

Why It Takes That Long To Get A Death Certificate?

Time spent in getting a death certificate varies from place to place. While getting such a certificate is quite hassle-free in some places and can be done away with within a day, the same process is time-consuming and fussy in some other places.

Obtaining a death certificate is that long because it takes time to verify information provided by the family. This helps to be assured of the truthfulness of the forms submitted and checks that no one misuses such a certificate. Issue of such certificates to the wrong people may have negative impacts on the bereaved family.

It all also depends on the level of red tape and bureaucracy in the area. If the local administration relies too much on red tape and officers or when the scalar chain is too long, it would take longer to issue a death certificate. A place must have a decentralized chain of command and less red tape to speed up the process making it people-friendly.

In addition to that, if the certificate has to be issued by a medical practitioner, it would all depend on how fast the practitioner gets the final reports of the dead patient.

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Conclusion

Getting a death certificate is helpful for the bereaved family in claiming their loved one’s legacy. The family becomes the legal inheritor of the deceased and can access their bank accounts and other personal belongings. It can be issued at a hospital or a government office.

It would take on average a week to get a death certificate. However, some local administrations around the globe have speeded this process and it can now be obtained in a day at places. On the contrary, certain places in the world can take over two months to do the same thing.

References

  1. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/398165
  2. https://www.nejm.org/doi/pdf/10.1056/NEJM198511143132005
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