A Certified Death Certificate is necessary before much can be done. The funeral home will complete the death certicate based on information you give the funeral director. The certificate is then taken to the Certifying Physican or Medical Examiner. Once signed it is then registered with the Health Department in the county where the death occurred. A copy is filed wiith the county Register of Deeds, and eventually with the NC Vital Records office. Access to copies of death certificates is limited to family members and persons acting on behalf of the estate. Even though you can obtain them yourself, your funeral director will offer to get them for you. There is no charge for this service, all though in North Carolina the Registers of Deeds do charge ten dollars per copy.
Procedures and costs vary from state to state. It is a good idea to obtain multiple copies of a death certificate as many agencies require a certified certificate and not a photocopy. You will need certified death certificates to probate the will, file for insurance benefits, close bank accounts, and open safety deposit boxes amoung others.