What You Need to Know about Death Certificates

What You Need to Know about Death Certificates

At the Memorial Society, we often receive questions from members about the funeral sector. Who better to answer these questions than one of our funeral provider partners. In this article, we asked Ryan Crean of Kearney Funeral Services about death certificates.


What are Death Certificates and how do I obtain them?

There are two types of “Death Certificates” issued when someone passes away. The first is a Medical Certificate of Death (MCOD). This document is an internal document completed and issued by the physician upon death explaining cause of death. Outside of certain life insurance policy requirements, this is rarely needed by the family and is sent to vital statistics as part of the deceased’s records. However, this document is required by the funeral home to issue death certificates and must be issued by the physician within 48 hours of death. This document is also required to issue permits for disposition and any ceremonies following the death of a loved one.

The Death Certificates issued by the funeral home are used as a proof of death to settle the estate, transfer ownership of assets or claim certain benefits such as insurance policies or the Canada Pension Death Benefit. They do not contain the cause of death and are used as proof of death when settling an estate. Upon the registration of death with vital statistics, these will be provided to the family by the funeral home.


How many copies of a Death Certificate do I need?

Since the cost is $27 per copy, for simple estates, usually two copies are recommended.  A Funeral Director certified copy can be used to claim Canada Pension Death Benefit and should be requested if not offered at the time of the arrangements. In the event a lawyer is settling the estate, they can usually certify copies as needed so more than two copies are generally not required. Two copies are suggested as a guideline, however if there are international assets, pensions or insurance policies these usually require original certificates.


Where can I get additional copies of the death certificate?

To obtain additional copies of the death certificate following the funeral arrangements, contact your funeral provider to issue more death certificates; this can usually be done within 24 hours. Or you have the option of using Vital Statistics Online Services to order.


Ryan Crean is the 4th Generation of the Kearney/Crean family to continue their mission of caring for the bereaved. Being one of the few family-owned independent funeral providers continuing to serve Greater Vancouver, he knows the importance of personalized support and care for the bereaved which is the core of Kearney’s mission of service.