Death records are instrumental in establishing our present-day vital statistics registration system. The statistical data that can be derived from them are of great value to public health and various other causes. Most states started centralizing death records in the fifties but they have been around at county and district level long before that although they were rather scant compared to those today. Together with Birth, Marriage and Divorce records, Death records form the principal vital records.
Public Death Records come under the jurisdiction of the state. There are thus subtle differences from one state to the next in the practices and laws governing the accessibility and treatment of the records. Because they are public records, anyone has the right to order any death records from the incumbent authorities as long as procedures are followed with the exception of those under restriction or protection for reasons of confidentiality, enforcement or security.
A great deal of information is found in death records. Personal particulars of the deceased, name of informant, place and date of death, cause of death, burial site, obituary and records of surviving immediate family members are examples of what could be found in death records although the cause of death is considered confidential in certain instances and only immediate family members are eligible to request that information.
The central document in death records is the Death Certificate but obituary if there is one can also be of great interest. Death Certificates are usually restrictive in accessibility due to the sensitive information. The cause of death is stated if it is accidental, homicide, suicide or declared in absentia as in the case of missing persons. Otherwise, it’s stated as ‘natural’ for confidentiality reasons (50 years before becoming public information) although law enforcement, health and security authorities can access the actual cause. For some states like Texas, death certificates within the past 25 years are considered protected and there are requirements for requesting them. There are other states with similar treatment.
There are variations in the ways death records are provided throughout the country also. Foremost, the fees levied among the states vary. The preferred mode of request is also different. Ohio rewards walk-in requests with same-day service while California only accepts mail orders and Texas recommends electronic orders (TexasOnline). Processing times are also vastly different too. It averages 14 weeks in California and 12 months for Death Affidavits. In Ohio, it’s 2 to 3 weeks and 10 business days in Florida.
The neatest way to get around all these variations among the states in Death Records Search is by using commercial record providers. They not only sort out the specifics of each state for you they have them all linked in a single database so that multiple-state searches can be conducted at one go. They always provide online option so you can conduct the search from the privacy and convenience of your preferred setting. Last but not least, it’s typically instant, 24/7 and straightforward.