A Certified Death Certificate is necessary before anything can be done. A death certificate can be obtained through a Funeral Director. It is a good idea to obtain multiple copies of a death certificate as most agencies require a certified certificate and not a photocopy.
Death certificated are filed in the state and county where death occured. The death certificate information is entered into vital records for the state and county health department records where the death occured. In North Carolina, death certificates are availabe from the Register of Deeds office in the county where the death occured for a cost of $10 per certified copy. The cost of the certificates is the same for funeral homes or individuals. Let your funeral director know how many death certificates you will need. It can often take two weeks or more to obtain a death certificate, much longer when the cause of death is uncertain.