Do not assume that the death certificate has been properly and accurately completed. Important data is not infrequently incorrect.
Read the death certificate slowly and thoroughly as soon as it is available – approximately 10 days or less from the date of death.
It is not uncommon for the death certificate to incorrectly show the decedent’s domicile. The decedent may have died in a nursing home in Georgia, but that does not mean that the decedent was a Georgia resident.
If at the time of death the decedent had his or her Florida homestead titled in the decedent’s name, then there is every likelihood that the decedent was still a Florida resident at the time of death. This can be critical for homestead determination in the probate context.
Another common error on the death certificate is an incorrect social security number – that can create all sorts of havoc throughout the probate process – insurance claims, Veteran’s Benefits, etc. – and it should be corrected at the outset and before it is filed for public record.
In Florida there are 2 kinds of death certificates: The “short” form or “non-medical” form does not show the cause of death. The “long” form discloses the cause(s) of death. The short form is preferable in the state of Florida although it is possible to use a long form Florida death certificate. The cause of death will be masked prior to its recording.
Out of state death certificates are eligible for recordation with or without the cause of death being shown.
Note that there is a common misconception that a death certificate is automatically recorded when the state issues it, but that is not the case.
If the decedent died owning real estate in Florida, the death certificate must be recorded in every county in which the decedent owned real property. Further, a Form 94 (Affidavit of No Estate Tax Due) must be filed in conjunction with the death certificate to prove that no estate taxes are due.