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How to Find a Death Record in Illinois?

What Are Death Records in Illinois?

A death record is a legal document issued by a government civil registration office upon the demise of a person. In the State of Illinois, a death record is created for any death that occurs in the state.

Some of the personal information and details contained in an Illinois death record are:

  • The legal name of the dead
  • Date of birth
  • Date of death
  • Social security number
  • Address
  • Marital status
  • Father’s name
  • Mother’s name
  • Method of disposition
  • Place of disposition of the deceased
  • Information about the cause of death

The State of Illinois offers both certified copies and uncertified copies of death records. The certified copies of death records are useful for legal purposes such as the settlement of an estate, claiming a will, settlement of an insurance claim, social security card, government assistance, and criminal investigation. On the other hand, uncertified copies of death records are used for genealogical purposes.

It is important to note that the State of Illinois also uses death records to track the population growth in the state.

How are Death Records Created in Illinois?

Under the Illinois Compiled Statutes, it is expected that every death in the State of Illinois is registered. This registration requires a death certificate to be filed with the local registrar within 7 days from the time of death and before the removal of the dead body from the state. However, if the death is subject to an investigation by a coroner, this timeline can be exceeded.

The creation of an Illinois death record begins when the funeral director receives a dead body. When this happens, the funeral director fills out a certificate with the personal data of the deceased. This information is usually provided by the next of kin to the deceased or the best available source. The Biodata and signature of the person that provides these details are also included on the death certificate. After this, the funeral director signs and puts his address on the certificate. The death certificate is then presented for medical certification on the cause of death.

The physician responsible for the deceased’s care before the death or the coroner investigating the cause of death will complete and sign the medical certification of the cause of death, providing details of the cause of death. For war veterans, the funeral director will prepare a “Certificate of Burial of U.S. War Veteran,” which will be submitted to the Illinois Department of Veteran Affairs.

In the absence of a body and a death is presumed to have occurred, an Illinois State Court of competent jurisdiction will obtain and verify details required to complete a death certificate. The court then issues a court order and provides these details to the state registrar, empowering them to prepare a death certificate. The death certificate must be marked as “Presumptive.” This death certificate must also show on its face the date of registration, the court that issued the order, and the judgment date.

How to Find Death Records Online in Illinois?

There are no Illinois State Government websites that provide online access to death records. Death records in the State of Illinois are only accessible either through the Illinois Department of Public Health or the Local County Clerk's office where the death occurred.

However, eligible individuals can look up death records through the National Death Index (NDI) portal, found on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website. This portal has restricted access, making it accessible to only epidemiologists and other health investigators. For access to this portal, the National Death Index Application Form must be filled, submitted, and reviewed to ensure that the applicant meets the eligibility criteria before gaining access to the portal. Information obtained through this portal is to be used only for medical studies and public health purposes. Any record searched on the NDI portal has applicable fees associated with the search. These fees include a $350.00 service charge together with a $0.15 per record for each death year searched.

Considered open to citizens of the United States, public records are available through both traditional, government sources, and through third-party websites and organizations. In many cases, third-party websites make the search easier as they are not limited geographically or by technological limitations. They are considered a good place to start when looking for a specific record or multiple records. To gain access to these records, interested parties must typically provide:

  • The name of the person listed in the record. Juveniles are typically exempt from this search method.
  • The last known or assumed location of the person listed in the record. This includes cities, counties, and states.

While third-party sites offer such services, they are not government-sponsored entities, and record availability may vary on these sites when compared to government sources.

How to Find Death Records for Free in the State of Illinois

The State of Illinois does not offer free access to death records. However, a requester can obtain a death record from the Illinois Department of Public Health, Office of Vital Records, or the Local County Clerk's Office where the death occurred at a fee. The requester is required to pay the recommended fee and meet all eligibility criteria before they can access a death record.

To obtain a death record in the State of Illinois, a requester is required to:

  • Provide a valid government-issued photo ID, proof of relationship, or a request from the recognized agency that requires the death record.
  • Obtain the form for the Application for Search of Death Records Files and fill the application form with accurate information.
  • Provide a specific written request for the required death record.
  • Pay applicable fees via credit card, mail order, check, or cash as the case may be
  • Submit the application

Where Can I Get Death Records in Illinois?

Interested persons may obtain Illinois death records from either of the following:

  • Illinois Department of Public health
  • Local County Clerk's Office

Typically the Illinois Vital Records Office accepts requests via mail, fax to (217) 523-2648, or in-person requests. A requester is required to properly complete the Application for Illinois Death Record form and submit it together with the required payment, a valid photo ID, and any other necessary documents by mail or in-person to:

Illinois Department of Public Health
Division of Vital Records
925 E. Ridgely Avenue
Springfield, IL 62702-2737
The office is open between Monday and Friday, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

In addition, Illinois death records can also be obtained at the county level by contacting the office of the County Clerk in the county where the death occured.

Can Anyone Get a Copy of a Death Certificate in Illinois?

In the State of Illinois, death records are not public records. A death record is only accessible to individuals who have direct or tangible interest in the decedent on the record. However, individuals that do not fall in this category can only obtain such records by providing written requests from government agencies requesting the records. For third party requests, requesters are to provide written documents naming them as any of the following:

  • Court-appointed personal representatives
  • Agents authorized by power of attorney
  • Executors or administrators of the estates of the decedent.
  • Licensed attorneys, acting on behalf of the decedent or their estates.
  • An agent with expressed notarized authorization.

How Much Does a Death Certificate Cost in Illinois?

The IDPH offers certified copies and uncertified copies of death certificates. A certified copy of a death certificate costs $19 for the first copy and $4 each for each additional copy requested. An uncertified copy of the death certificate costs $10 for the first copy and $2 for each additional copy of the death certificate. However, depending on the method or the channel through which the request is submitted, extra charges such as shipping or handling charges may apply. The standard fees, charges, and payment options associated with the various options by which requests are submitted are as follows;

Request by mail:

The standard fees for certified and uncertified copies of death records, together with the associated costs for additional copies, are applicable. Payment options available for requests made via mail are money orders or checks made payable to IDPH.

Requests by fax:

The standard fees for certified and uncertified copies of death records, together with the associated costs for additional copies, are applicable. Credit card payment is the preferred payment option for requests made by fax. A request made by fax is also subject to a handling fee of $12.95, and a UPS fee of $19.50 for a request from the U.S. if that delivery option is selected. For group orders, an extra $3 fee is charged for each extra person in the group order.

Online request:

The standard fees for certified and uncertified copies of death records, together with the associated costs for additional copies, are applicable. This option comes with a handling fee of $12.50. For group orders, $3 is charged for each additional person in the group order. Where UPS is selected as the shipping option for the request, an extra $19.50 is charged for deliveries within the U.S., while deliveries outside the U.S. attract additional fees. Payment for online requests are made with credit cards.

In-person request:

The standard fees for certified and uncertified copies of death records, together with the associated costs for additional copies are applicable. Requests made by this method can be paid for with cash, personal check, money order, or credit or debit card. It should be noted that all credit cards are accepted except for visa cards.

A request for correction may be submitted, as authorized by the Vital Records Act (410 ILCS 535). The correction request costs $15 for the first copy and $2 for each additional copy requested at the same time.

It is also important to verify the current fees by calling the IDPH office on (217) 782-6553.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Death Certificate in Illinois?

The standard processing time for a death certificate is 5 - 7 business days. A request for corrections takes about 15 business days to process. Special provisions are available for situations where the request is urgent. In such a situation, the applicant for the death certificate will provide evidence indicating the urgency. Examples of acceptable documents to prove the urgency for a request include a letter from an insurance agency, notice from the agency requiring the death certificate, and a travel itinerary indicating departure within 30 days of the application. An urgent request is required to be accompanied by a prepaid overnight delivery return envelope.

How Long to Keep Records After Death in Illinois

Financial, legal, and medical records are the main records that need to be preserved after a person's death.

A decedent's financial records are to be kept by the representative of the estate for a minimum of 3 years. This allows for ample time for the creditors of the estate to file claims per Illinois Compiled Statutes. Claims by creditors must be filed within 2 years from the time of death.

Legal records are to be kept indefinitely including vital records and legal wills. On the other hand, medical records are to be kept for at least 10 years after the death of the person. Per the Vital Records Act (410 ILCS 535/8) (from Ch. 111 1/2, par. 73-8)Sec. 8, these records are to be maintained by the medical facility where the records were created. Illinois Public Act 097-0623 permits access to these records to be granted to immediate family members of the deceased only when an executor or representative of the estate is not appointed.

How to Expunge Death Records in Illinois

Expunge is a legal term that means to physically delete, destroy a record or return a document to the owner thereby removing it from public view. The State of Illinois has no provision for the expungement of death records.

How to Seal Your Death Records in Illinois?

The state of Illinois has no rules on the procedural process of sealing death records. Sealing of records is the process of restricting access to them. This is often done for criminal or juvenile records and not death records.

How to Unseal Your Death Records in Illinois?

Death records can not be unsealed. It follows that since you can not seal a death record it also means that the record can not be unsealed.