What is death certificate, its importance and how to apply?

A death certificate is a legal document that is issued by the government to the nearest relatives of the deceased. This document is mandatory and states the:

  • Date of death
  • Time
  • Most importantly, cause of death, which otherwise is not to be disclosed

Anyone can apply for a death certificate in India. It is a primary document that serves the following purposes:

  1. Settlement of inheritance of property
  2. Important for the family members to avail the benefits of insurance
  3. Processing of any other legal claims

Certain questions that can arise while applying for a death certificate are mentioned below:

Who should report the death and when?

While the customary and religious rituals are performed in the family of the deceased, the death in the house needs to be reported within 21 days of its occurrence. According to the Registration of Births and Deaths act, 1969, it is mandatory to get a death certificate issued. The guidelines of the RBD state that the head of the family should report the death; however, in ordinary circumstances, any member of the family can report the death.  

The oldest male in the family or any relative can also report the death. If the death has happened in a hospital, the medical in-charge or the chief medical officer needs to report the same. The RBD act has also put an onus on health attendants or the owner of a place set apart the disposal of the dead body for reporting the death. Additionally, in medical cases, the medical practitioner who had last attended the deceased needs to provide a certificate for the cause of death. 

List of documents required to be submitted

Some of all of the following documents might be needed to be submitted at the registrar’s office along with the filled application form, with the signatures of the applicant on it.

  1. Age proof – birth certificate of the deceased
  2. Affidavit mentioning the date and time of death
  3. A copy of ration card
  4. Address proof (rental agreement or lease agreement, electricity bill)

The registrar should enter the name of the deceased in the death records without any fee or reward; this is stated under the rules of the RBD act.

Also, the person approaching the registrar for acquiring the certificate may have to furnish the documents that specify his/her relationship with the deceased.

Mortality statistics form a crucial part of the vital and relevant data of a country. The number of deaths happening every year is information that is useful for the government to recognize the causes of deaths and to formulate national and state healthcare policies by referring to these figures.

Medical Certification of Cause of Death (MCCD) in India is laid out under the Government Medical Certification Scheme. This scheme incorporates the training of medical practitioners. The MCCD is the most frequently issued certificate and is of immense legal and medical importance. Hence, it should be filled out correctly.

To avoid any inconvenience and complications, make sure you follow this information while applying for a death certificate.

When are death certificates deemed necessary?

The death certificate is regarded as something which we contemplate as the last resort but it sure does hold value for multiple reasons. Apart from the obvious fact, there are a lot of reasons as to why the death certificate is important where it acts as proof for many purposes. The immediate family is the one who applies and obtains the death certificates for a lot of purposes like:

Inherited property settlement: When your loved one dies, it is evident that settling of the property will require a really long time. In order to make sure that you can access the bank accounts, claim the investment, or claim the property, a lot of copies of the death certificate is required. If the property involves a lot of steps and procedures to be inherited, then more and more copies of the death certificate will be needed. 

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Life insurance claim: If you have been named as the beneficiary with regards to the life insurance policy, it doesn’t matter as to what relationship you had with the expired person, you will still have to showcase a government issued copy, which is the death certificate, so that the benefits can be claimed by you easily. 

It is a known fact that the process involved in the life insurance claim is slow but when you provide the death certificate copy, the process can be fast-tracked vehemently. 

Pension:  If your spouse has expired, you might receive the monetary benefits from the pension. For this, a lot of things have to be provided to the company so that they can issue it as the proof of death where you should also provide your proof of the relationship you had with the deceased person. The essential document needed for this is the death certificate. 

For re-marriage: It might be required by some states that when a widower or widow wants to remarry, he/she should provide a document of proof that his/her previous partner has expired. With this regards, a death certificate holds utmost importance and can also help solve any issue if the person is not able to remarry again. 

Medical benefits: There are some cases where if the person’s child or spouse has deceased, he/she might be entitled to receive the medical benefits of the deceased. However, it might not be easy to claim this benefit where a death certificate and the proof of relationship will be necessary to produce to the officials to help the person claim these benefits. 

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The death certificate is also needed if you have to close an investment account or bank account of the deceased person. The document also comes in handy if you have to give intimation to the government agencies, creditors or mortgage lenders. 

As seen above, a death certificate is something which is much more important than you actually perceive. It is always better that you should have multiple sets of copies of death certificates from the right source. 

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