Typically, people looking for information on their ancestors skip right past the death record, heading in a beeline for other vital records such as marriage and birth. One might not imagine what a document about death could possibly do with the living. Documents of death, like any other vital records, can be very helpful in various ways. Perhaps the most significant information such record can provide is the cause of death. With the knowledge of how genetics contribute to health and diseases, the fact that an ancestor may have died from a genetically predisposed disease is paramount. Death records also provide so many other important details about the deceased. The central repository for Illinois death notices is the Bureau of the Vital Statistics which functions under the Department of Public Health.

Unlike any other states in the US, death records are not public records in the State of Illinois. Thus, such records are restricted only to those who are related to the deceased. If you are not at all related to the decedent, you will have to provide a letter from the office that requires the death record. For genealogical research purposes, an uncertified copy of a death record is given provided that the death occurred at least 20 years prior to the date of request.

Certified and uncertified copies of death records can be obtained from the Division of Vital Records. Additionally, such copies of death notices can also be acquired through the Office of the County Clerk in the county where the death took place. For deaths recorded prior to 1916, these can only be obtained from the county clerk’s office.

Each certified copy of a death record costs $19, while the uncertified, genealogical copy is worth $10. For additional copies of certified copy, a fee of $4 is required if requested at the same time. In case no record is found, a no record statement will be given. The processing fees are non-refundable regardless if a record is found or not. Payment can be made by check or money order payable to the Illinois Department of Public Health or with a credit card. Payment should not be in cash. Credit card transactions will charge an additional $10 for the handling and an extra $19.50 fee if you choose that the death record be delivered to you.

In requesting for a copy of a death record, the important details you need to provide are the decedent’s full name, date and county of the death, the parents’ name, your relationship to the deceased, and the reason for your request. In addition, a written and notarized document naming you as the authorized individual should be submitted. If your purpose is to claim legal, personal or property interest, a printed document verifying that you have a personal or property interest at stake, such as a will naming you, should be submitted to the Office of Vital Statistics along with your request form.

In Illinois, death records can be ordered online, by mail, by fax, or in person. The usual turnaround time for such requests takes several days to weeks depending on the method used and the volume of requests received in the Vital Records division. If you want to obtain a copy of a death record fast, do it online. There are a lot of online record providers which can proffer you the same service but only for a minimal fee; and instead of the usual processing time of days to weeks, these providers can give you the records you need in just a matter of minutes.

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