What exactly is a death certificate? What purpose does the death certificate serve?

What exactly is a death certificate? What purpose does the death certificate serve?

A death certificate certifies the death of a person, in the state in which the person passes away. Death certificates issued by the state of Missouri are certified, this means they have a raised seal that one can feel. When a person passes away in Missouri a death certificate must be signed by the Missouri licensed funeral director and Missouri licensed physician or Missouri licensed nurse practitioner. In some cases, the state of Missouri will allow a physician licensed in other states to certify a death that has occurred in Missouri. This happens sometimes when people are traveling and pass away in the state of Missouri. This can only happen when cleared by the local Missouri or medical examiner or coroner.

The time frame may vary on how long it takes to issue a certificate. A death that is a result of natural causes can in most cases can be completed within a week or so. Deaths that may result by causes other than natural need signed by the medical examiner or coroner in Missouri, may take up to 8 or 12 weeks to complete. This extended wait time most of the time is due to the wait for autopsy results, the longest wait is always toxicology results. When the death of a child occurs, and the baby never takes a breath outside of the mother a death certificate is not issued, these are called fetal certificates.

A death certificate will ask for certain information about the person that has passed away. The death certificate when the funeral director collects the statistical information from the certificate from the family, this information is then entered into into the computer, and the information is sent to the appointed doctor electronically. Once the Doctor signs the certificate is then sent to the Missouri state vital records office in Jefferson City, Missouri. The certificate is then certified by officials in this office and available to the family in a fairly short period of time. On the other hand some doctors in Missouri do not sign death certificates electronically, This drastically slows down the entire process. The funeral director then has to print out the certificate, send a paper copy to the doctor, then wait on it to be returned to the funeral home. After this we then have to take it to vital records to get copies.

Due to the fact the death certificate is an official document it is always a good idea to refer to the persons birth certificate if at all possible, to insure accurate information. When you go to make arrangements with your St Louis Cremation Service or St Louis Funeral Home you will be asked the following questions.

Decedent’s legal (First, Middle, Last)


Maiden name

Date of death

Social security number


Date of birth

Birthplace (City and State)

Current address

Father’s name

Mother’s name (First and Maiden Last Name)

Was Decedent ever in U.S Armed Forces (if so what branch)

Place of death (If hospital emergency room or inpatient)

Place of disposition

Highest level of education completed



Kind of industry employed

Informant  (person providing information) First and Last Name, Full Address, Phone Number, and  Relationship

To obtain a copy of a death certificate in Missouri is pretty easy. When you meet with your St Louis Funeral Home or St Louis Cremation service when making arrangements you can simply order one then. As of right now the cost of a Missouri issued death certificate is $13.00 for the first and $10.00 for each additional copy. Death certificate can be ordered online at https://www.vitalchek.com/vital-records/missouri/st-louis-county-vital-records?click_id=635289456228237314&ppc=0  St Louis County Vital Records offer six other options to obtain death certificates you can find on this page. https://www.stlouisco.com/Health-and-Wellness/Birth-and-Death-Certificates(Please beware some funeral homes and cremation services are actually charging a fee to produce certificates this is a very unethical tactic they are using to increase the bottom line on below market service prices. The death certificate has to be produced by law!)


The death certificate will contain certain information such as place of disposition as well as the date. The Missouri licensed physician, coroner or medical examiner will put in the cause of death.


Families need death certificates to make insurance claims, as well as closing any kind of financial accounts. A death certificate is needed to sale or take the name off the title of any kind of real property the decedent may have. When taking death certificates to some financial institutions some will require a certified copy, a few will make copies of the original and return these copies back to the family. Closing out most of the deceased persons business affairs may require certified copies. In most cases Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, nor the Veterans administration require certified copies of the death certificate. If the deceased has any outstanding bills in most cases a copy of the certified is acceptable.


Here at Bi-State Cremation and Funeral Service it is our pleasure to help families through these trying times. We are a St Louis Cremation and Funeral Company. located at 3387 N. U.S. Highway 67, Florissant, Missouri 63033. You can call us anytime at 314-831-8868.

                                                                                                Hope this information helps.

                                                                                                Larry T. Byndon

                                                                                          Missouri Licensed Funeral Director

Bi-State Cremation & Funeral Service
3387 N Hwy 67, Florissant, MO 63033
Mo,Tu,We,Th,Fr,Sa,Su all day
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