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Assembly Panel Advances Bill Permitting County Surrogates to Provide Copy of Death Certificates in Certain Circumstances

In an effort to make it easier for county surrogates to assist residents with wills and other related matters, Assemblyman Herb Conaway sponsors a bill that would give surrogates access to certified copies of death certificates for authorized persons under certain circumstances. The legislation was advanced by the Assembly Health Committee Monday.

County surrogates are local officials who – among other duties – qualify executors and trustees named in wills and handle the administration of estates belonging to people who died without a will.

Under the bill (A-3327), if a county surrogate places a request, the State registrar in the Department of Health (DOH) would be required to permit and facilitate the surrogate’s access to vital statistics records. This would allow the county surrogate to give a copy of a deceased person’s official death certificate to an authorized person to whom they are providing services.

Authorized persons include parents, spouses, children, grandchildren and siblings over the age of 18, as well as governmental and court officials acting in an official capacity. This would provide another place where citizens could obtain certified death certificates, in addition to existing sources such as a municipality’s office of the Local Registrar.

Upon the legislation advancing, Assemblyman Conaway (D-Burlington) issued the following statement:

“If someone is seeking out the services of a county surrogate in regards to a will or other important matter, this legislation would make it easier for these officials to access the paperwork they need to complete those services. Rather than a client having to go elsewhere to obtain their loved one’s death certificate, they can take care of multiple tasks in one place. At a time when many may be grieving and overwhelmed with the responsibilities that come with the death of a family member, this can make their duty just a little easier for them.”