The statistic on inaccurate death certificates you just read was issued by Bob Anderson, Chief of Mortality Statistics at the National Center of Health Statistics. Why does this matter? Perhaps that question comes to mind, but once you find out just how much the death certificate is utilized, you’ll understand why this statistic matters.

At a glance, the death certificate serves as identification with the community health department in the State of Michigan that an individual has died. However, the death certificate can help in various situations. For example, when there is a life insurance benefit with a named beneficiary, that beneficiary will want to have a certified copy of the death certificate, so he or she can prove that the person died. By presenting the death certificate, the insurance company can begin to distribute to the beneficiary or beneficiaries.

This also applies in property that is jointly owned. A jointly owned property is an asset in which the decedent and someone else have equal claim to. A good example of this would be a bank account. Presenting the death certificate will allow the financial institution to remove the decedent’s name from the account. Real estate also applies in this case. When the death certificate is presented, it will serve as evidence that the other owner has died. Through the chain of title, the survivor will inherit the decedent’s ownership of the property.

So there’s quite a few ways in which the death certificate can be utilized. Let’s ask ourselves again, why does this statistic –  that nearly one out of every three death certificates are inaccurate – really matter? It’s because the death certificate is used in many ways to assure that all assets are going to the right person. Benefits, property, money and so much more are tied to a death certificate. Imagine if that death certificate is inaccurate though. That can present a delay in the disbursement of assets and hamper people’s progress.

Darren Findling of The Probate Pro talks about how death certificates interplay with probate.

If you have any questions about death certificates and the transferring of estates and assets, probate or non probate, give The Probate Pro a call at (833)-PROBATE or visit us at Our legal team is ready to help you.