How to Obtain a Death Certificate in Georgia: Step-By-Step

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The death of a loved one can be a challenging and emotional experience on its own. Dealing with the legal side of it can be emotionally taxing as well. If you are handling tying up any loose ends or managing a deceased loved one’s estate, you may require their death certificate. 

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A death certificate is a legal record that has to be created every time someone passes away, as deaths must be reported to the appropriate local or state records office. This document normally includes personal information like historical details, the details of death, and health information.

You might need a death certificate for a variety of important tasks after the death of a loved one. If you have become a trustee and now have to arrange the deceased’s affairs, it will be an important document for you to have.

It is handy when it comes to notifying the IRS of a death, filing an insurance claim, handling the deceased’s finances, sending a notification of death letter to the credit bureaus, or declaring Medicare or pension benefits. 

What Do You Need to Get a Death Certificate in Georgia?

Getting a death certificate requires you to show valid government-issued photo identification and documentation that explains your relationship with the deceased. Something that may help you verify your identity and relationship with them could be a marriage license or birth certificate.

You’ll also need information on their death, which can be provided by a certified medical professional that includes the cause and time of death.

After compiling the basics, contact the Department of Public Health in Georgia to start your request. Any additional information can depend on the type of death certificate and the requirements listed. A fee will have to be paid as well to obtain documentation or if you are filing for the first time.

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Steps for Ordering a Death Certificate in Georgia

The process of getting a death certificate in Georgia is fairly straightforward. You may want to make sure to have all your necessary documentation and identification handy when making the request. Keeping track of the contact information gathered from doctors, offices, and other professionals can be useful as well.

Step #1: Complete a death certificate form

Go online to the Georgia Department of Public Health website and print out a death certificate form. As stated previously, you will be required to provide basic information about the deceased. Details will include the deceased’s personal information like their previous address, Social Security number, parental information, marital status, and information on the widowed, if necessary. 

If it feels more comfortable for you, you can schedule an in-person request for death certificates at your county or state’s office. They may have walk-in hours, or you can go into the State of Georgia’s online system to book an appointment. 

Step #2: Contact physician or medical examiner or coroner

The next step would be to contact the medical examiner, coroner, or physician who handled the deceased’s case. You’ll most likely get information related to the death and you will likely need to add their signature to the form. Take this as an opportunity to ask any additional questions you have about your loved one, such as any health concerns or details missed.

Sometimes the funeral home or a medical professional, such as a coroner or certified physician, will file the death certificate themselves. This task may be under their jurisdiction if it isn’t handled by other parties in time. They will normally work alongside a funeral director and turn the form into the relevant county or state records office. 

Step #3: File certificate with the state of Georgia

You can allow a professional to handle this for the family, or file online, or in-person. Either way, the process will take anywhere from one to eight weeks to be completed, and can take longer if you send the form via snail mail.

This is the last step in the process of receiving a certificate from the state of Georgia. Make sure that you have all of the required documents and information included with the request. Also, while going through the process, make sure to ask any questions you may have.

Steps for Ordering a Copy of a Death Certificate in Georgia

Before filing for a death certificate, make sure there isn’t one already on file. If you are unsure that a deceased person has a death record on file, the first step would be to check through records online. In Georgia, they have regulations that state that only qualified individuals will be allowed to obtain copies of these documents. Here are the steps to receive a copy of a death certificate in Georgia. 

Step #1: Check your criteria

In the State of Georgia, records can only be released to those who are eligible. To receive a copy of the deceased’s death certificate, you must be one of the following:

  • Immediate family member
  • Legal representative of the deceased
  • Legally authorized individual by a court order
  • Current spouse
  • Ex-spouse
  • Funeral director
  • Beneficiary
  • Coroner
  • Government agency representative

Step #2: Search through public records

In Georgia, their citizens and members of the public have the right to retrieve and gather copies of important records upon request.

Usually, if the record is public, there won’t be any documents required to obtain an informational copy. Interested individuals can contact the office of the official records or go through a third-party research company to search through records.

Step #3: Verify your identity when needed

It’s important to understand the difference between a certified copy or an informational copy of the death record requested. Certified copies are important records that are officially stamped and can be used for legal purposes like authentication, while informational copies are used to conduct research and study topics like death and mortality rates.

Individuals with specific and related interests, such as anyone named in the record, the immediate family members, like a wife, mother, father, sibling, or authorized legal representatives are the only ones that can receive certified copies.

If you are requesting a certified duplicate of a death record, you are required to provide a government-issued photo ID when validating your connection to the deceased. Acceptable ID include:

  • A photocopy of a state-issued driver’s license
  • State ID card
  • State weapon permit
  • Transportation ID card
  • U.S. passport
  • U.S. military ID card

Frequently Asked Questions: Death Certificates in Georgia

Hopefully, this article helps you to accomplish this important step for the deceased. Note that it is also useful to contact the Department of Public Health to ask for any assistance or additional information.

How long will it take for me to receive a death certificate in Georgia?

Normally, if you request a death certificate in person, you can receive it on the same day. However, electronic or requests that are mailed in may take longer. Death certificates can take anywhere from four to eight weeks through the mail, or between two to four weeks if you request them online.

You can expect to receive the certificate within five business days if you pay expedited fees through an online order.

Are death records public in Georgia?

Each state has individual laws when it comes to whether or not death certificates will be available to the public. They also determine what kind of information will be on the files, including the cause and time of death.

In Georgia, important documents, like death records, are considered public records. These are official documents related to vital events that have happened in the state. In Georgia, the  Department of Public Health is the central office where records of statewide important events are held. The Department will issue copies of records to interested and eligible individuals. 

You can do a death certificate search to see if any records are available. At the county level, you can receive copies through the County Board of Health, the County Probate, or the Superior Court. 

How much does getting a death certificate cost?

The first certified copy of a death certificate costs $25. For each additional copy requested, you will be charged $5. You can request one through mail at the Georgia Department of Health Website by downloading the Request for Search of Death form. 

You’ll need to complete all required information and include a valid copy of your photo ID. You can mail in the form, with said copy of your ID, and a certified check or money order to the Georgia Office of Vital Records. You can also submit death certificate requests online at any approved third-party vendors, like Go Certificates or Vital Check.

There may be potential additional fees to use your credit card or for expedited requests.

Obtaining a Death Certificate in Georgia

Receiving your loved one’s death certificate can be a final reminder of your loss, but is also a vital piece of documentation to ensure that your loved one’s financial legacy is taken care of. The process should not take over a week, however, when mailing in orders it may take anywhere from four to eight weeks from when you send it in. Keep in mind all of the files and information needed from you to receive the certificate.


Sources:
  1. “Georgia Vital Records.” State Records Georgia, 2021, georgia.staterecords.org/vital.php.
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