May 17, 2021 Blog 0

Executive Summary:

  • National Average suggest 6 – 10. However, advice varies. We have seen suggestions that say start with 2-3. It really depends on the person. The more financial concerns, the more death certificates that will be needed.
  • In Oregon, the cost is $25 per certificate and a one-time $20 filing fee.
  • It is possible you will get some of your certificates back if you request them but that could take months and it is dependent on who you are doing business with.
  • If you end up with extras it is OK, you should hang onto them. You might need one down the road.
  • Ordinarily, it has taken 1 to 2 weeks to get a certificate but during unusual times, such as COVID, it is taking sometimes more than 4 weeks.
  • If you want to get close or exact, follow the Playbook Method to determine how many you need!

6 – 10, 2-3, really?

That seems like a ‘pretty broad’ range. You might not be comfortable with such a broad range and I am not comfortable with generalizations when it comes to planning and getting the Playbook in order. We can narrow it down a little.

The number of certificates that are needed are going to depend on:

  1. How many financial concerns someone has (accounts, insurance policies, pensions, etc. etc.). Consult the Playbook here.
  2. How each company or organization you are going to deal with sets its own policies. Make some phone calls or inquiries before ordering. Ask what exactly they need.
  3. And, how much time you want to waste if you get too few or how much money you want to waste in getting too many. Do you have more time or more money?

They are not free, are they?

It seems like they would be relatively inexpensive this day and age, but. at least in Oregon, $25.00 per certificate plus a one time fee of $20.00 to process. So, if you get one certificate it is $45. Might as well get three certificates for $95.00. One thing to keep in mind is that the cost of not having enough might be much more than the cost of the certificate. For example, the time delays in settling an estate might be very costly. You very well might end up wishing you had paid for extra the first time you ordered.

Do you get them back?

Yes and no. Some companies upon request will send them back to you. That could potentially save you the expense of having to purchase additional certificates. However, depending on the company you are dealing with it could take several weeks to get that certificate back or several months. So, if you are in a hurry to get things resolved I wouldn’t rely on getting the certificates back in time to complete things in a timely manner.

You got some back?!

In the event you end up with extras as a result of getting some back or not needing all the ones you had; hang onto them! I’ve witnessed several occasions where a death certificate was required long after someone passes. Usually dealing with a registration issue such as someone owning a stock in certificate form jointly with a surviving spouse. When the surviving spouse, child, trustee…goes to sell the position, guess what they need?!

How long until I get them?

What used to take a week or two shouldn’t even take that long anymore, right? Well, it depends on what’s happening now. Right now, we’re dealing with COVID and that is slowing everything down. It’s not necessarily related to more people dying but that’s part of the issue. It’s an overwhelmed system trying to deal with the highest priority problems first. Sometimes, our death certificate request are not a top priority. So, I’ve recently seen the request take as long as 4 weeks plus.

The Playbook Process to getting it right:

  • Review the Networth Statement. If done correctly, you have listed every account you have and listed every asset and liability.
    • Review your Cashflow Statement. If done correctly, you will have a list of all interested parties, past, future and present that could need a certificate. This could be pension administrators, annuitized payment streams, or other ongoing cashflows.
    • Finally, if you have insurance that is not on your Networth, consider those an account to call as well. You should also call and discuss any employee benefits such as life insurance that might be in place with a H.R. representative of an employer.
    • Contact each service provider for each asset or liability and ask them if they need an original or does a copy work. Additionally, make sure to ask if they need a long form or a short form. This is important! If you are working with us, just call our office and we will make the calls for you with each account we are associated with.
    • Make a list of how many originals you will need and note long or short form. Then order one more than you think you need!