Electronic death certificate to benefit family members

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Starting this fall, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) will require all funeral directors and coroners to file death certificates electronically.

The days following a loved one's death can be very difficult and dealing with legal matters doesn't make it any easier, but this change could ease the sometimes long process of obtaining a death certificate.

Myrtle Beach Funeral Home and Crematory Director Jim Bowdre, says the change will help streamline the lengthy process, a major benefit to family members of the deceased. A death certificate is required to handle important affairs and until they receive a copy, they can't move forward on matters relating to insurance policies, bank accounts and estates.

Using the electronic system will help shorten the process according to Jim Beasly, spokesperson for DHEC. They system has been around since 2005, however, not everyone has transitioned to electronic filing and use the original manual system instead. The change should also help improve accuracy.

Bowdre says he hopes DHEC will take it one step further and require physicians to file electronically too.

It can take days sometimes before a doctors signs  a death certificate, a major inconvenience for family members arranging funeral services. Bowdre says waiting on a physician to sign off, delays the entire process.

In the state of South Carolina, he legally can't move forward with a cremation until he has the death certificate. Right now less than half the physicians he works with use the electronic filing system. The rest still use paper and pen so Bowdre's wife constantly travels to and from doctor's offices to collect signatures by hand.

"We've had to have empty urns sometimes up there because we couldn't get the doctor to sign the death certificate and the family didn't quite realize how long it takes sometimes," shared Bowdre.

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