A death certificate is a vital record that documents the end of a person’s life and is equally as important as a birth certificate. Some would actually say the death certificate is even more important given that it’s needed to manage an estate and financial affairs. That means accuracy is extremely important when it comes to death certificates.
But like everything in life, mistakes can happen when a death certificate is created. What happens when a death certificate is inaccurate? We’re answering that question with advice on what to do if a death certificate needs a correction.
Check With the County to Make Death Certificate Corrections
Vital records like death certificates are typically managed at a local county level. How the county manages records is sometimes directed by the state. That means making a correction on a death certificate isn’t going to be the same everywhere.
If you receive a death certificate with an error the first thing you need to do is contact the county entity that manages vital records. This is usually:
- The County Clerk
- Medical Examiners Office
- Vital Records Office
Although the exact process is different for each county and state, in most cases to make a correction you’ll need to complete an amendment application. You’ll also need to produce documents or proof that shows the death certificate contains an error.
The funeral home that helped you file paperwork and had the death certificate sent to you might be able to help. If it’s been less than six months since the death certificate was issued and the error involves personal information the funeral home can help with amendments.
However, if the error is related to medical information you may need to contact whoever is listed as the medical certifier.
Any death certificates ordered before the cause of death is determined will list the cause of death as pending. Once the cause of death is determined the Medical Examiner will contact the family and let them know.
In Texas, the family can directly order death certificates that specify the cause of death online https://ovra.txapps.texas.gov/ovra/order-death-certificate. There is no need to contact the funeral home or order updated death certificates through the funeral home.
Who Can Request Death Certificate Amendments
Who notices a death certificate has an error can make a difference. Typically, only certain people are allowed to request an amendment to make a correction on a death certificate. The list of approval requesters includes:
- Surviving spouse
- Legal guardian
- Individual with a court order
- Funeral home that managed the disposition
- Medical certifier on the death certificate
There could be time limitations for some people to make amendments. For example, the funeral home can make a request, but it’s usually limited to the first six months after the disposition.
Common Death Certificate Errors That Need Correction
Corrections aren’t needed often, but the most common death certificate errors include:
- Deceased’s name
- Cause of death
- Time of death
- Place of death
- Place of birth
- Date of birth
- Social Security Number
- Parent’s names
- Surviving spouse’s name
- Occupation of the deceased
- Deceased’s address
- Level of education
- Military service
Corrections That Don’t Require New Death Certificates
Just because you notice an error or there’s an update to the information it doesn’t necessarily mean new death certificates need to be made. Some of the information that’s included could be ancillary and not required for official records.
This is also the case if the cause of death is listed as pending on the death certificate. The cause is “pending” if the medical examiner has to investigate the death to determine the cause, which could take months. Once the cause is determined the medical examiner’s office will update the medical records on file, however, the original death certificates are still valid. The next of kind can choose to order new death certificates with the cause stated, but it isn’t necessary.
Unless you need additional death certificates, you may find that correcting minor errors or making a small update is more hassle than it’s worth.
Do you have more questions about changing a death certificate in Texas? The team at Green Cremation Texas helps the family obtain death certificates as a part of our cremation services. Call, text or email today for more information.