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How to Find Out if Someone is Deceased or Has Died

Death RecordsThere are many reasons why you might wonder if someone from your past has died, such as an old friend or neighbor. Perhaps you moved away and lost touch and haven’t been able to make contact using the phone number or address on record. Or, perhaps you’re doing a family history project and want to learn the cause of death for several ancestors, as well as the dates of death. No matter what your motivation is, here are some tips to accomplish your goals.

Where to Find Details Like Cause of Death

A death certificate is an essential record that contains all the important information related to a death, including cause of death and date of death. Sometimes, learning when a person died is important for legal reasons, while other times it’s just information to add to the family tree.

A death certificate not only provides important details like the cause of death, but also lists the full name of the decedent, the date of birth, place of birth, most recent address, names of parents, occupation and whether the decedent was in the military. This type of information is helpful to someone tracing the family’s history because it can lead to other types of records, such as military records, that will help fill out an ancestor’s story.

Learning if Someone is Deceased

If you aren’t sure whether someone died, but don’t want to or don’t know how to contact the person’s family members, you can look online to find out if someone has died using the following tips.

  • Use an online genealogy website and enter the person’s first and last name in a death records search to learn if there are any matches. Some sites provide this search for free.
  • If you know where the person lived, check with the local county clerk’s office to learn whether a death certificate is on file. Some county clerks offer online access to this information.
  • Search the social security death index, either directly through the Social Security Administration’s website or using another public records site that subscribes to the index.

Accessing Death Records

Although learning whether someone is deceased isn’t overly difficult, if you want details from the death certificate, like cause of death, you might face a challenge depending on the access rules of that state. Some states restrict access to death records for privacy reasons, meaning you must be a relative or a legal representative.

Other states give death certificates to anyone because no cause of death is listed, and therefore, the copies cannot be used for identification purposes. This makes learning the date of death easy. An online search for death records is the easiest way to learn if someone is deceased.