How To Find Out If Someone Died

Looking For Someone?

Use their Name, Phone Number, Email, or Address to find information.


There are many reasons why you might want to know if someone has died. Some people search for long-lost family members, past friends, or acquaintances. Maybe you heard from someone else that a person has died and you wanted to find out what happened. Or maybe you’re simply morbidly curious.

Whatever your reason, there are many free options to find publicly available records.

You may be able to find information on who died for free as many free vital records sources are easy to find if you know where to look.

There are several public records that you can access online for free, including the National Archives and the CDC Vital Records Index

This article will provide all the resources, materials, and methods you need to find out if someone has died, the place of death, when the death occurred, and all other available information.

How to Find Out If Someone Died: Are Deaths Public Information?

A person becoming deceased is considered public knowledge. For people who died in the United States, there is information that needs to be gathered for official government records. A lot of that gathered data about the deceased is available to the general public, while some might be restricted based on family wishes or state regulations.

So how do you find out if someone has died? What public notices are put out and where can you find them?

While deaths are generally considered to be a private matter in the majority of cases, some information is going to be public. To find out if someone has died and to find the available information on them, there are a few main places to look.

Records can provide basic information like birth and death dates, where they died, and when. That’s basic information, but if you’re looking for more whether or not that information is available will depend.

Just a few things that can affect your search include the cause of death, how it was reported, and whether or not an autopsy was conducted.

Does the family want privacy or are they openly sharing information in an obituary?

That said, going through these steps will not only help you find any information available on a person who passed but also any information available about them that is open to the public.

First Steps for Finding Information on People Who Died

There are various methods for determining whether or not someone has died, and then finding what information is available.

Here are the first four steps you should take to check to see what death certificate is on file or what obituary information is public already.

  • Look at the National Death Index via the CDC
  • Search online for obituary information
  • Check social media for announcements if the person has a social media presence
  • Contact the appropriate State office for death records

This will provide all the easily available information in virtually every case and you can get this basic information for free.

In the next section we’ll review these resources in more detail and show you how to go about using them to find the information you need when you’re looking for someone’s record of death.

Is There a National Database for Death Records?

The National Death Index (NDI) is comprised of a database of death records maintained by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), which is a component of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

This database can be searched online for free. This is a great resource for finding information on someone who recently passed away. This can confirm whether or not someone died, and give the most basic of information.

You’ll know if there’s a death certificate on file for that acquaintance, friend, or family member. This is the best starting point and the online CDC database on resident deaths is updated regularly, though for obvious reasons not in real-time.

This means if the person passed away very recently their information might not have been added to their records yet.

State Death Records

If you want more information beyond the national databases, it’s worth noting that states are required to keep their own records of deaths of citizens, residents, or visitors who pass away in their state.

If you know the state the death occurred in, then you can contact the Vital Records office of the state government.

Every state has its own rules and processes for how to do this. The one common requirement between states is that you will need to provide the name of the deceased. Depending on the level of information you want, it might be free or you may have to pay for full records – this varies from state to state.

Look for the vital records office of the state online with a simple Google search and use their search function to find out where records are kept for the deceased.

In some states you can access them online right away. In others you will need to put in information and order the records, but every state does make them available.

Keep in mind that there are a few exceptions. Some religious groups like certain sects of the Amish don’t have official government documents and therefore the state won’t have records on the deaths of those individuals.

Local Obituary Records

Another option beyond online searches for federal and state resources is to look at local obituary records. This includes getting in touch with the county clerk’s office in the county where the deceased individual lived.

Check online databases that list deaths by name, or look for the area’s local newspaper and see if they have online archives.

For newer obituary reports most papers will have 5-10 years online, though much older obituary listings will likely be available at a local news office or via microfilm at the library.

Search through newspaper archives that date back many years for additional information. Visiting in person may allow people there to help point you in the right direction even if they can’t directly provide you with the information you want.

If you want to obtain copies of death certificates, you will almost always have to pay a fee for this service, especially if the individual has not passed away recently.

How Do You Research a Death Record for Genealogy?

Using a local county courthouse or online resources such as or YYY Casino login, you can learn more about individuals who have been deceased for some time. How useful this resource is depends on whether you’re looking deep back at the genealogy of the family tree or looking for someone unrelated to you.

For websites that specialize in genealogical records, you will need some prior information. You’ll need to know the person’s full name. You also need either their date of birth or date of death, and possibly their National Death Index number (NDI). 

This can fill in information that isn’t as readily available, especially if individuals from other parts of your family tree have done research and recorded their findings on the person or people whose information you’re looking for.

These sites amass that data and can really fill in details of deceased individuals from a part of your family tree that you would not be able to find elsewhere.

The key to making the most out of this is having a copy of the death certificate, which you will need to get from the federal, state, or local resources already covered in this article.

Can You Check Death Records Online? 

Although the National Death Index (NDI) is a great place to start, it is not the only source of death information available through internet searches. Some states allow vital records to be ordered or even accessed online.

There are other options like using online databases such as FamilySearch or Find a Grave to find available records.

Each of these sites works as separate potential online resources because they have their own data and internal search, meaning you may continue to find new information with every new site search. 

If after all those resources you are still having difficulty locating what you are looking for, it’s possible the person hasn’t died and you just heard a rumor.

However, if there’s reason to believe that’s not true, then please do not hesitate to contact the National Death Index by phone or email to continue to follow up for more information. 

How To Find Out If Someone Has Died?

Looking For Someone?

Use their Name, Phone Number, Email, or Address to find information.


Search ‘Person’s Name + Death’ In Google

Sometimes the simplest solution is the best. A Google search is an excellent tool for determining whether or not someone has passed away since it can pull data from archives, genealogy websites, funeral home websites, and newspaper obituaries.

In other words, this simple Google search can point you to the most easily available information out there. 

Just Google the person’s name and the word death, no quotes or plus sign needed, and if there are online results you’ll almost certainly see them.

The one downside: if the person has a very common name you will need to add more descriptors like a location to narrow down the results.

Then, if any websites appear that mention the individual has passed away, you can check the results and read the biographical information and pictures to confirm it’s the right person.

Online Obituaries

Online obituaries are a great way to discover whether or not someone has passed away. Many online obituaries websites allow you to conduct a free search for a deceased person

All you need is the individual’s name and the city in which they reside. If it’s a small town or an area with only one or two funeral homes, check their websites for past obituaries to see if the name you’re looking for comes up.

You may also want to look at the small town newspapers and the archives they keep on their websites.

If you don’t have access to the internet, it is also possible to check with your local library or newspaper archives instead. 

Social Media

In many cases, you should first look for death-related information on social media platforms. Friends and family members will frequently post about death on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, making those the first places where news will often break about the death of a loved one.

Looking at the accounts of shared friends and acquaintances is one of the best ways to get at least basic confirmation, and may allow you to reach out to ask when funeral or wake arrangements will be.

Local News Websites

If you want to find out if someone has died, news websites are an excellent resource. Especially local news sources. The majority of these websites have archives that date back several years or even decades. 

So, if you are looking for information about someone and know where they lived most of their life, or where they lived when they died, these archives can be a great source of information. 

Use a People Finder Search Engine

The BeenVerified search engine scours public records to find as much information that is available online as possible. If you have a name and a state, it can scour online for a lot of information.

You will need to provide an email address for the results, but this is a potential option for getting a PDF report of individuals with that name from the location typed in – and it’s possible that their records-based search engine could find information that you missed.

If the person is deceased, the record of their death will appear in the results of the search.

Local Places of Worship

Some churches, synagogues, and mosques provide free death notices to their members. This can be especially true in small communities or with very old religious buildings that have been the cornerstone of a community for a long time. 

This is typically a service that is only available to congregation members, but it is occasionally available to the general public. 

If you are unsure whether or not a place of worship provides this service, you should contact them and ask.

Can You Find Out How Someone Died? 

While it is not always possible to determine how someone died, there are a few options for trying to find out this information. These are not guaranteed, as outside of a crime that is publicly reported, the cause of death is often considered personal information for the family which they may share, keep secret, or publish publicly as they see fit. 

If you knew the individual well and are friendly with the family, that is the best way to get direct information on the cause of death. If you’re not that close, this is not likely to be an option and it can be inappropriate to ask. If you decide to proceed, do it tactfully.

Autopsies are generally kept private with the family and if a crime is involved, the only information released will be what law enforcement wants to release.

Because of this, finding out exactly how someone died is difficult and you may have to rely on what information the published obituary provides for that person – even though it might be light on the details depending on the situation.

There are terms often used in obituaries to gloss over the cause of death like “died suddenly” or “passed unexpectedly.” This doesn’t tell you how someone died, but it can give clues that it might have been an accident, illness, or suicide.

At the end of the day, if the family doesn’t want that private information to be public, there’s not really another way to find out how a person died that is reliable, in most cases. 

How To Find Out Where Someone Is Buried?

If you are looking for a recently deceased person to pay your respects, you’ll need to find out if there is a gravestone or marker indicating their final resting place. The Social Security death master file is one option for finding out the official location of where someone is buried since the file contains information on all deaths in the United States since 1962 and contains information up to 2018.

This can be accessed online for free and contains a lot of information on recorded deaths in the United States. This is less useful for very recent deaths or those that took place before 1962. This also won’t have information on those who don’t have Social Security or identification cards, like the earlier mentioned Amish, among others.

However, this is an excellent resource for finding out the location of where someone is buried from that 1962 to 2018 range.

Another option is finding the county courthouse and asking for vital records on burial plots since this information should be available. Whether or not you need to pay a basic fee will depend again on the county and the state.

If all else fails, you can always turn to the deceased’s family and friends for assistance. They may be able to provide additional information about where they were buried or know someone who can.

Generally speaking, people tend to be helpful when providing information to an old friend or acquaintance who wants to pay their respects.

Finding Information on a Person’s Death for Free: Concluding Thoughts

Looking For Someone?

Use their Name, Phone Number, Email, or Address to find information.


Most resources for finding basic information are free, meaning there are plenty of options to get the information you need to find out if a person has passed or not, and if they have, what information is readily available.

These resources can have a surprising amount of information and if someone you know has passed away, if you know the state where the person died you have the information you need to find the rest.

With the information, resources, and methods outlined in this article, you have everything you need to find all the information you need about the deceased person and pay your respects as you see fit.

Written by Shane Dayton

Shane, an MFA grad and seasoned online writer, specializes in security and privacy, using his vast state-to-state travel experiences to guide readers through the complexities of information safety in a digital world. Read more of Shane's articles.