Death Certificate included with deed - what do I do?

Has anyone ever had a prospective seller send a Death Certificate for their spouse with an accepted purchase agreement? If I send that certificate in for them and register it with the county it allows the spouse the legal ability to sign the deed on their own correct?

Disclaimer: I'm not an attorney. Don't take this as legal advice.

It sounds like this person probably did the right thing by including it with the purchase agreement (depending on the state laws and how the property was originally deeded to them, you'll probably need this from them eventually). Usually I have to ask for this, because most sellers don't realize they need to get this recorded in order to properly transfer the deed and keep the chain of title clear.

Assuming the seller and his wife held title to the property together (as "joint tenants with full rights of survivorship" is often how it's worded), the deceased spouse doesn't need to sign the deed when the property is sold (obviously), BUT, you do need to record evidence that the deceased spouse is actually dead, and this is done by recording an original copy of their death certificate, along with a copy of the original deed. This is probably why they sent it to you, so I would hang onto this and get it recorded when you record the deed (or give it to the title company, if a title company is closing it for you).


@retipsterseth Thanks for the advice!

If the Death Certificate has already been recorded in the county of the property location, is it necessary to see a copy of the Death Certificate? I checked the county records and verified the information on the DC (on the phone) with the county Recorder's office, but the DC is not visible (confidential) on the website so I was wondering if I need to ask the seller for a copy (for visual verification) or is the information of the filing usually sufficient?

@suitedconnector, I'm by no means an expert on this (haven't actually done an entirely self-closed deal yet), but I have done a few deals where the properties had been inherited within families, affecting title work in various ways, and my best guess is that if you ended up trying to resell the property on a warranty deed and there was an attorney involved in the closing (depending on the state) or your buyer was purchasing a title insurance, I expect the attorney or title underwriter would need to see the death certificate that's recorded with the county. That said, I would think they would also pull that document, and all others relevant to the chain of title, directly from the county, at that point, so it seems to me that if you're very confident the death certificate says what you need it to, and is properly recorded with the county, I wouldn't think you would necessarily need to pull a copy yourself if you didn't want to.

@dl7573 Yea, I'm feeling confident about that as well, since there's no other Death Certificates filed for that name at that time. Even so, I will ask the relative if they can produce a copy.