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The Process

All Funeral Establishments must adhere to the same process. Timelines can vary greatly.

Here is an example:

This process can be very frustrating for the family. A death certificate is a legal document. The state will NOT accept a Death Certificate until it conforms with, International Classification of Diseases (ICD) Clinical Cataloging System.


Step 1: We must ascertain which physician may complete the medical section of the death certificate. Nothing can be done until family has provided physicians information for decedent.

Step 2: Once we confirm information is correct, we fax over causes of death worksheet for doctor to fill out.

Step 3: Once causes of death are accepted by the Health & Human Services Agency (HHSA) then we notify the Electronic Death Registration System to send the attestation for the doctor to sign electronically.


Things that can often delay process:


If physician's office has poor cooperation and/or poor communication this can cause a delay.


If physicians are unavailable or only scheduled certain days.


When additional info is needed on the causes of death such as time interval between onset & death, or what a cause of death was due to the physicians or medical records office will not usually respond quickly. Often we contact the physician's office to remind them of this urgency.


Any referral to the medical examiner's office can cause a delay. The Medical Examiner may have questions and might need to speak with the physician directly.


The medical examiner's office may invoke jurisdiction and receive the deceased. Should that happen, the Medical Examiner will provide an acceptable death certificate. A Medical Examiner will charge the family a fee for transportation.


If the physician has not seen decedent recently prior to passing then they can refuse to sign the death certificate, in which case the family must provide another physician or we must refer the deceased to the medical examiner's office.


Sometimes physicians' think they are done with the process after the worksheet is filled out. The physician must electronically attest that the information provided is correct. Legal attestation can be completed by voice or facsimile directly with the state of California (HHSA) Health & Human Services Agency (signing of the death certificate) which is the last step they must do.


When a physician does not sign the death certificates correctly that requires it to be re-signed. Examples; physician signs outside of the box or applies the date in the wrong format, This electronic process needs to begin again with the state; they intern forward the document to the physician. This can delay the process depending on how fast the physician re-signs,


Some specialist physicians will not sign death certificates. Emergency Room doctors will NEVER sign death certificates.


When decedent has no known next of kin it may take days to obtain physicians information and will be referred to a public administrator.


Hospices and Medical Examiner provide excellent customer service.

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