Retrieving an original copy of a death certificate in New York City usually isn’t a big challenge, but it can be if the client’s degree of kindred to the decedent is too remote, like a cousin.

In my practice, the issue often comes up when the client is a cousin and an alleged heir in a kinship proceeding in one of the five boroughs of NYC. As a cousin, the client may be an “entitled party“, but they are not an entitled party with automatic right to a death certificate in NYC.

The solution? The Vital Records Attorney Protocol has always made obtaining an original copy of a death certificate in NYC for my clients fairly seamless.

According to the Vital Records Attorney Protocol document provided by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, in order to get a copy of the death certificate, the attorney must submit:

  1. A letter from the attorney on attorney letterhead.
  2. A completed death certificate application signed by the attorney.
  3. An original letter from the entitled party authorizing the attorney to act on their behalf. In other words, my client signs a letter stating that I am their attorney and that they authorize me to act on their behalf.
  4. A copy of the entitled party’s valid, unexpired, government issued photo identification. A photocopy of the front and back of the client’s driver’s license does the trick.
  5. The applicable fees (See the death certificate application).
  6. Proof that you are an attorney licensed to practice, such as a printout of your attorney number from the New York Unified Court’ System’s Attorney Online Services – Search.

The above is then mailed to:

NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
Office of Vital Records
ATTN: Attorney Requests
125 Worth Street, Room 133
New York, New York 10013