Death Certificate Law and Legal Definition

A death certificate is an official document issued by a Government to the nearest relatives of a deceased stating the date, fact, and cause of death. A death certificate relieves the relatives of a deceased from social, legal, and official obligations of the deceased. It enables the settlement of property inheritance and authorizes the family to collect insurance and other benefits.

A death certificate is admissible in evidence and is prima facie evidence of the facts stated therein. In order to be admissible as prima facie evidence of the facts stated therein, a death certificate must be certified by the state registrar. [Segrest v. Gillette, 331 N.C. 97, 102-103 (N.C. 1992)]

Recording a certified copy of the death certificate of the deceased title holder is recognized as a method for terminating a life estate in real property, vesting title in a surviving spouse to real property held as tenants by the entireties or vesting title to real property in the co-owners of real property held as joint tenants with rights of survivorship. The following is an example of a state statute providing for the recording of a death certificate. “Any person who claims entitlement to unclaimed property by means of the death of one or more persons shall file a copy of the death certificate of the decedent or decedents that has been certified as being authentic by the issuing governmental agency”. [Fla. Stat. § 717.1261]