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How To Search Online For Public Death Records | Public Records

Public death records, usually called death certificates, are vital records that make human death, more or less official. Available in a variety of formats, public death records sometimes have valuable information used for purposes such as: Verification of the death to pay a life insurance policy For use in criminal cases where there is suspicion of foul play To carry out genealogy and ancestry research on members of the family long deceased And for many other personal issues, and for official purposes

How to find public death records Many states and/or counties have online databases where the death records are published – made available by public court records, while many others don’t. If you have access to the deceased’s social security number, and can not find his name on a local or state website, you can request a copy of the Death Master File (DMF) from the U.S. Social Security Administration. DMF are also archived by the many genealogy sites, sometimes for free.

All of this is an important part of this particular topic. There are also a host of pay sites that retrieve the death certificates, some better than others. Nonetheless, these “Pay Per View” sites almost always offer simultaneous access to other vital public records such as marriage licenses, birth certificates, divorce records and so on.

Searching for Public Death Records

What is on a death certificate? Each state has different laws regarding these types of public court records and what information they do and not make available to the public. Most times, death certificates contain at least the following: The full name of the deceased, and any nicknames or aliases The place of birth, time, age and place of death of the deceased and the name at least one witness immediate surviving family place of residence cause of death

In addition, some states allow additional information to be released, for example: The former occupation and employer of the deceased The birthplace of the father and mother and the maiden name of the mother Name of the place of burial or cremation The deceased’s social security number The name of the funeral home and the signature of the mortician

Kevin Whitman is a bit of an amateur genealogy buff. To get tips about finding public records, check out his site at

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