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Weird question about death certificates
Old 01-15-2020, 02:21 PM   #1
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Weird question about death certificates

Are death certificates only available county-by-county or is there a national list somewhere? Is the data available in real-time or close to it? If not, how much of a delay is there?

On the flip side, is there any national certificate of residence or similar that proves that I live where I say I live?

e.g. if a trust fund pays Mr. Jones $5,000 per month, how do they know if he's still around?
I'm not trying to start a scam - I'm trying to understand how to prevent one.
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Old 01-15-2020, 02:41 PM   #2
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You may find this Boglehead thread interesting...

https://www.bogleheads.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=229762
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Old 01-15-2020, 02:50 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by johnhkc View Post
Are death certificates only available county-by-county or is there a national list somewhere? Is the data available in real-time or close to it? If not, how much of a delay is there?

On the flip side, is there any national certificate of residence or similar that proves that I live where I say I live?

e.g. if a trust fund pays Mr. Jones $5,000 per month, how do they know if he's still around?
I'm not trying to start a scam - I'm trying to understand how to prevent one.
Don't know the answer to most of your questions, but in Illinois, death certificates are filed only in the county that the person passes away in.
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Old 01-15-2020, 03:37 PM   #4
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e.g. if a trust fund pays Mr. Jones $5,000 per month, how do they know if he's still around?
I'm not trying to start a scam - I'm trying to understand how to prevent one.
If a bank is paying a beneficiary it will likely stop. All mortuaries are required to report deaths to Social Security, which then compiles a database by SS number. After DH died Bank of America, where he had a small checking account, contacted me about liquidating it. I assume they tap into the SS database. The SS Death database used to be publicly available, complete with SSNs.

Guess why they had to make it private.
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Old 01-15-2020, 04:02 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by johnhkc View Post
Are death certificates only available county-by-county or is there a national list somewhere? Is the data available in real-time or close to it? If not, how much of a delay is there?

On the flip side, is there any national certificate of residence or similar that proves that I live where I say I live?

e.g. if a trust fund pays Mr. Jones $5,000 per month, how do they know if he's still around?
I'm not trying to start a scam - I'm trying to understand how to prevent one.
I'm not sure about a repository other than the USPS. There are applications that scrub addresses and validate. I was always under the impression they used copies of USPS data. Pitney Bowes has a product/service called finalist that many large firms utilize. I may be wrong but I don't think those applications validate who lives at an address, only that it's a valid address. This is a free country and I don't have to live in my assigned slot.
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Old 01-15-2020, 04:06 PM   #6
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Not an answer to the question, but when my mother got into her 90s, the agency paying her pension used to send her an annual "are you still alive?" letter. The required response varied, but usually amounted to having her make a phone call to verify that she was still on the right side of the grass. I wonder if this is a common practice?
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Old 01-15-2020, 04:47 PM   #7
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Not an answer to the question, but when my mother got into her 90s, the agency paying her pension used to send her an annual "are you still alive?" letter. The required response varied, but usually amounted to having her make a phone call to verify that she was still on the right side of the grass. I wonder if this is a common practice?
I wonder what they would have done had she been incapable of calling or signing anything? I suppose her POA or guardian or whatever could have responded, but even with that, I would imagine there are some old folks with no family who are basically "wards of the state". I can't imagine that anyone would then respond or how they would even get notified. Interesting. Was this in Kentucky?
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Old 01-15-2020, 04:49 PM   #8
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Our local social security office is very well managed and even personable. And they watch the local obituaries closely and make changes to their records--to stop monthly checks immediately.

They've even been known to call the family's home to verify they've got the right person's records. But don't think any $225 check will come automatically without their recieving a copy of the death certificate.
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Old 01-15-2020, 05:06 PM   #9
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I wonder what they would have done had she been incapable of calling or signing anything? I suppose her POA or guardian or whatever could have responded, but even with that, I would imagine there are some old folks with no family who are basically "wards of the state". I can't imagine that anyone would then respond or how they would even get notified. Interesting. Was this in Kentucky?
She was in Ohio and the pension agency was in New York.
Due to her failing eyesight, I used to make the phone call and then put her on to speak to the representative. As I recall, the notice said the payments would stop if they didn't receive a response within a certain period of time.
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Old 01-15-2020, 07:00 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by johnhkc View Post
Are death certificates only available county-by-county or is there a national list somewhere? Is the data available in real-time or close to it? If not, how much of a delay is there?

On the flip side, is there any national certificate of residence or similar that proves that I live where I say I live?

e.g. if a trust fund pays Mr. Jones $5,000 per month, how do they know if he's still around?
I'm not trying to start a scam - I'm trying to understand how to prevent one.
My Mom's death certificate was apparently recorded by the state, not the county ("Bureau of Vital Records and Health Statistics").

I doubt there is a national list.

My Mom died on 6/6/16 and her certificate was issued on 6/9/16. Interestingly, on the website it states "Death, stillbirth/miscarriage, marriage, and divorce certificates are legally confidential in Idaho for 50 years." So you might not be able to find out by asking my state.

If you have a legitimate need and have the person's SSN, you might be able to find out via the SSA.

Proving one's address is usually done with a couple of utility bills in your name, so it's not a high bar. There is no national database that the government maintains. People can move around as often as they want.

If a trust fund is paying someone, they could do so by check. If the signature on the check doesn't match the person's known signature, then that is how they might know. Or if the pattern of check cashing changes - for example, several checks in a row go uncashed, when normally they are cashed promptly. If the trust fund is using direct deposit, then they would know if the direct deposit is rejected by the ACH system by the receiving bank because the account has been closed.

Most of the ways that a regular death would be scammed involve violating laws in some fashion, usually fraud. Many people are honest, and the ones that aren't can also be caught by banks or family members who are watching what's going on and will notice something amiss.
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Old 01-15-2020, 07:42 PM   #11
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I donít see much if anything that would prevent someone from committing this kind of fraud if they are determined. Folks on this board just donít think like criminals.
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Old 01-16-2020, 08:51 AM   #12
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after my BIL died in ‘03 i received notice from the VA within about 10-days that his benefits would stop and would i be so kind to return his benefit for the current month. i’m still getting the occasional piece of junk mail addressed to him.
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Old 01-16-2020, 03:24 PM   #13
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Some expats south of the border post in online forums about living on nothing more than SS retirement bennies.

I always wondered when one died how many of the surviving spouses didn't bother reporting the death to the local consulate so both SS benefits would continue...
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