Who is responsible for verifying information that is included on a death certificate?

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Who is responsible for verifying information that is included on a death certificate?

My husband and I were separated when he died and my mother-in-law informed the funeral home that we were divorced. Therefore, I was not notified of his death, nor did I receive a copy of the death certificate. I was homeless when he died and his benefits from the Motion Picture Industry would have changed my situation. However, when they finally contacted me and I asked my mother-in-law to please correct the death certificate, she refused and stated that it wouldn’t do me any good cause I wasn’t gonna get anything. It took me another year to finally get this mess straightened out. Who is liable?

Asked on February 3, 2012 under Estate Planning, California

Answers:

MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Here is the issue. You were separated. In the eyes of the law, his property was his separate property that he earned before he was married to you and those after he was separated from you. Anything while you were married could have been considered marital property to which you have been entitled. So if this portion of the estate has been squared away but it left you with attorney's fees and other costs and damages to your economic situation that you can show with proof, then you can certainly attempt to sue the mother in law, her insurance company (home insurance), the funeral home and their insurance company. Ultimately, it may not even be a fiduciary responsibility to anyone regarding the funeral plans but the issue concerns the estate itself. If your husband had a pension or retirement and you were still listed as a beneficiary, you may need to sue that company for the failure to conduct its fiduciary responsibility to you as a beneficiary or the beneficiary.


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