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How to Find Out if Someone Died

Finding out if someone has died can sometimes be harder than you’d expect due to a lack of a single source that immediately reports deaths to those who are searching. If you’re trying to find out if someone passed away, here are some important places to check.

How to find out if someone has died that you knew

If you're wondering how to find out if someone is deceased, there are a few places you’re going to want to search. In general, you will need to have at least some vital information before you begin your search. These pieces of information will make it easier to find out if someone died recently (or in the past) and in some cases, can help you find out the cause of death.

  • The decedent’s full name
  • Their most recent residence (city and state)
  • Their date of birth (or at least the year, or an estimate)
  • Their popular social media accounts (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn)

Once you’ve gathered this information, you’ll be ready to start your search. In general, individuals may find themselves in two positions when trying to find information on whether or not someone passed away. If you’re part of the first group, you may have zero connection to the family, have a bad family history with the family, or want to avoid speaking with or contacting the family of the potentially deceased at all costs. If you’re part of the second group of people, you may feel comfortable talking with the family, but may want to handle some of the research on your own. In general, being able to talk to the family can be a benefit in your search. Though the conversation may be awkward, it’ll generally be easier to get a quicker answer as to whether or not someone has died.

Ask family members and friends

One of the quickest ways to find out if someone has passed away is to try and get in touch with their family. There are ways to phrase your question to make it less uncomfortable, especially if you’re not close with the family or haven’t talked to them in quite some time. Acknowledging that time has passed and being gentle with your request can help start this conversation. If you’re close with the family or the death seems unexpected, you may be able to find out the cause of death by asking about what happened, though this can be a very sensitive subject for some to disclose.

Don't know any family members or friends? Try getting creative and thinking of other places in the community they may have had connections. Were they part of any churches or religious organizations? Were they in a union or labor organization? Did they volunteer? What were their hobbies? Try getting in touch with other members in their community for additional information on whether they’re still alive.

Search social media

Another easy place to look is on social media. If the individual who passed had social media (such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn), you may be able to find an immediate answer to your question. If the family wanted to, they would’ve memorialized the account (memorialized accounts typically say “In Memory Of” and make it clear that the individual has passed away). Accounts can be memorialized on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, so those are the first places you can check for an immediate answer.

If you want to find out more information on their passing, getting in touch with their community and friends on social media is easy to do as well. There may also be references to service information, an obituary, or more information on their passing if you scroll through their feeds.

Browse online obituary sites

Want to know how to find out if someone died for free online? Searching through online obituaries and obituary websites is an easy (and free) way to locate an obituary. Simply use a search engine (like Google or Bing) or go directly to the obituary website itself to start a search. If you’re searching on a search engine, try searching for the full name of the person who passed and the word “obituary”. If you’re searching directly on the website, most have a search bar in some location to easily locate an obituary. Here are some good sites to check:

Check the Social Security Death Index (SSDI)

If you're looking for someone who died in the United States after 1962, another place to check is to search the Social Security Death Index (SSDI). The SSDI is a database of all individuals whose deaths were reported to Social Security, mostly after 1962. If you're searching for someone who might have passed away prior to 1962, you can still perform a search on the SSDI, but it may be difficult to locate the death record for the individual since the SSDI is not a complete database and was only implemented after 1962. The record you locate may contain inaccurate or incomplete information if the individual passed before 1962.

Check local newspaper websites

If you know the city and state of the individual who passed away, you may be able to find an obituary that was published in the local paper if the family decided to publish an obituary in the local paper. The first step here would be to find a list of newspapers that are local to the area of the person who passed away. Some search terms to Google include, "[city state] list of newspapers" or "[city state] local newspaper obituaries". You can also perform a search on Legacy.com, which typically includes obituaries that were posted in the local paper if they used Legacy.

Once you’ve found newspapers that are local to the deceased, you can use their websites to perform a search for obituaries. Most newspaper sites have an obituary database online that you can browse or search through, similar to online memorial websites. For older obituaries that may have been posted before the internet or before the site started posting obituaries online, it can help to contact the obituary department or customer service department of the paper you’re looking through.

Visit a local city records office or archive

If you know where the person passed away, you can make a visit to the local city records office or library to see if they have any archived information on the individual's passing. They may have a death certificate on file or older newspaper prints on file that you can browse through to see if anything was published surrounding the individual’s passing.

Call the local police station

If you're still having trouble finding out if someone died and you know the city or county they passed away in, your next step can be to call the local police station. The police may have a report on file of the person’s death and may be willing to share that information with you. Unfortunately, there are some cases where the police may not be able or willing to share any information on a death, so you shouldn’t take this step as the final answer to your question of whether or not someone died.

Go to the local courthouse

If you know the county the individual passed away in, go to the county courthouse and ask to look through their public records. County courthouses have a clerk’s office which is typically where records such as these would be kept. You should be prepared to pay a fee if you’re asking to look through probate records or other records. You may also be able to perform a search of a courthouse’s records through their online database, so this would be something you’d want to check before paying an in-person visit.

Check for a death certificate

Another place to look is with the death certificate. This is a great option for those who aren’t in touch with the family or want to find out if someone has died without getting in touch with the family. In the United States, death certificates are considered public records, so you should be able to obtain a copy from a vital records office in the state where the person died. In most states, you are able to obtain a copy of the death certificate by ordering one online, though this process typically takes weeks or months.

The death certificate will show the cause of death as well as other important information, like the time and location of the death.

How to find out if someone died in your house

Purchased a house? Looking for information on how to find out if someone died in your house for free? Some of the steps in this article won’t be able to tell you if someone passed away in the house you’re about to purchase, so you should take a slightly different approach.

If you’re trying to find out if someone died in your house, here are some steps to take:

  • Ask the real estate agent. In some states, sellers of real estate are obligated to disclose whether or not someone died in the home within a certain period of time. Some states don’t require this, so you’ll need to do some research prior to referring to this legality. If you live in a state that requires disclosure, ask your real estate agent or the homeowner about any deaths. If you live in a state without this requirement, you can still ask.
  • Check online. Another easy place to check is to simply Google the address of the home. You can add the word “death” to the search to narrow down the results. Another specific site to check is DiedInHouse.com which is a site dedicated to helping you find out if someone died in a home.
  • Check historical newspapers. Some older newspapers may have death reports that include the address of the person who passed away. You can check online archives of newspapers to help with this search, such as NewspaperArchive.
  • Ask neighbors and other locals. While it may feel awkward, asking neighbors or other local residents if a death occurred on the property is a quick way to find out if someone died in the house you’re about to purchase.

These are some places to check if you’re purchasing a home or simply want to know if someone died in the home you currently live in.

Want to find an obituary? Browse obituaries that have been posted on Ever Loved by individuals and families. Obituaries that are posted on Ever Loved let you share photos and memories, share condolences, and get in touch with the people who created the memorial website for additional information and questions.

Browse obituaries

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Last updated April 19, 2022
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