Law Offices Of Thomas Sciacca, PLLC

Blog Death Certificate Estates Executor Funeral Directive Surrogate's Court

How Do I Get a Death Certificate for a Deceased New Yorker?

{Read in 3 Minutes}  As a Trusts and Estates attorney, I am constantly dealing with death certificates. The Surrogate’s Court will require that any new Estate petition contains a certified copy of the decedent’s death certificate. Simply put, the Surrogate’s Court cannot begin work on the Estate of a deceased person until they confirm that the person is, in fact, deceased. How do people go about getting death certificates for deceased New Yorkers?

For the very recently deceased (i.e. their loved ones are still planning for the disposition of their remains), the funeral director is a great source for obtaining death certificates. When arranging a funeral after someone dies (or if someone has chosen to prepay their funeral), the service provider will ask how many death certificates they would like to order. Usually, they will order somewhere between six and twelve, and the funeral director will obtain them directly from the City of New York. Often, they can do this for a few months after the funeral is over, so don’t be shy about contacting the funeral director and see if they’re still within the window of time in which the City will allow them to get death certificates directly.

If it’s too late for the funeral director to assist, or if you’d prefer to go directly to the City, there are two ways that you can do it, as described on the City’s website

First, one can order it online using VitalChek (an online service that verifies your identity based on public records) to determine if you are someone who is entitled to order a death certificate, and then you can pay online with your credit card. This is often the preferred method as VitalChek can turn things around very quickly. The other way that this can be accomplished is by filling out a paper application, which is available online at the City’s website. It will allow you to fill out the form — or you can always submit it by mail or bring it to the Department of Vital Records on Worth Street in Lower Manhattan for processing. This takes a little bit longer but is still a tried and true way to obtain death certificates.

Finally, it’s worth noting that you have to have some connection to the dead person in order to get their death certificate. Due to privacy concerns, I cannot just order a death certificate for anybody. I need to be within a certain level of relationship with the deceased, usually a spouse or domestic partner, a parent, a child, a sibling, or perhaps a grandparent or a grandchild. If you do not fall into one of these categories, but you are the Executor of the Estate of the deceased, then you can also order one from the City. For more information on this topic, please contact me.