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Correcting Errors on Death Certificates in Florida

July 13, 2023
Two Birth Certificates released by HM Passport Office in 2021. Selective focus. Stoke-on-Trent, United Kingdom, April 13, 2022.

Filing a death certificate is a crucial process, ensuring accurate records are maintained for individuals who have passed away. However, mistakes can occur, leading to incorrect information being recorded on the death certificate. One common error is inaccurately stating the marital status of the deceased. In Florida, the law allows for the amendment of death certificates to rectify such errors. In this blog post, we will explore the procedure for correcting marital status errors on death certificates in Florida.

Understanding the Error

Errors can happen during the completion of a death certificate, even with the best intentions. For example, a death certificate might mistakenly indicate that the deceased was widowed when, in fact, they were legally married. Such errors can have significant consequences for the surviving spouse, potentially impacting their entitlement to survivorship benefits.

Authority to Amend Death Certificates

The Florida Department of Health, Office of Vital Statistics, is authorized to correct misstatements or omissions in birth, death, or fetal death records. Under Section 382.016 of the Florida Statutes, the department can make amendments upon the submission of an affidavit detailing the necessary changes.

Corrective Affidavit

To rectify a marital status error on a death certificate, an affidavit must be submitted. This affidavit serves as a legal document affirming the need for correction and outlines the accurate marital status of the deceased.

Requirement of a Court Order

In some cases, the Office of Vital Statistics cannot correct errors that affect the “surviving spouse” status on a death certificate without a court order. This requirement is specified in Section 382.016(2) of the Florida Statutes.

Impact of the Error

Inaccurate marital status information on a death certificate can have adverse effects on the surviving spouse. For example, they may be deprived of survivorship benefits to which they would otherwise be entitled. Correcting the error promptly is crucial to protect the rights of the surviving spouse.

Supporting Evidence

When seeking to amend a death certificate, it is essential to provide evidence of the valid marriage between the petitioner and the deceased. This evidence may include a copy of the Marriage Record filed with the Department of Health-Vital Statistics.

Seeking Corrective Action

To address a marital status error on a death certificate, the affected party must request a court order directing the State of Florida, Department of Health, Office of Vital Statistics, to correct the error. The request includes issuing a new death certificate that accurately reflects the marital status of the deceased and lists the surviving spouse’s name.

Statutory Provision for Amendments

The statutory provision governing the amendment of records, including birth, death, or fetal death records, is outlined in Section 382.016 of the Florida Statutes. According to this provision, the department must make the necessary amendments or replace the original certificate upon receipt of the required fee, documentary evidence, and an affidavit detailing the changes.

In conclusion, correcting marital status errors on death certificates in Florida is possible through the amendment process outlined in Section 382.016 of the Florida Statutes. By following the appropriate legal procedures, including submitting an affidavit and, if necessary, obtaining a court order, individuals can ensure that death certificates accurately reflect the marital status of the deceased. Timely correction of these errors protects the rights and entitlements of surviving spouses.

If you need assistance correcting a Death Certificate in Florida we would love to help you. Our office handles Estates throughout Florida. Give us a call for a free consultation.

-Brice Zoecklein, Esq.


Disclaimer:   The information contained in this blog/website is for informational purposes only and provides general information about the law but not specific advice.  This information should not be used as a substitute for advice from competent legal counsel as laws change and the facts in your specific case need to be analyzed.