Because death records are the least privacy-sensitive of the vital records of birth, marriage and death, you actually have a decent chance of finding death information for your ancestor online. Check this list for some of the best sites for death certificates and obituary notices online.
This FREE online genealogy site from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) includes digitized images of death certificates from Arizona (1870-1951), Massachusetts (1841-1915), Michigan (1867-1897), North Carolina (1906-1930), Ohio (1908-1953), Philadelphia (1803-1915), South Carolina (1915-1943), Texas (1890-1976) and Utah (1904-1956). The site also offers a wealth of transcribed death records, funeral home records, burial records and funeral notices from places as diverse as West Virginia, Ontario, Mexico, Hungary and the Netherlands.
If I'm researching an individual who died in the United States, I'll often start my search for online death records at Joe Beine's fabulous site. It's straightforward and relatively ad free, with state by state lists of links to online death records including indexes, certificates, cemetery records and obituaries. On each state page, you'll find links to statewide records, as well as county and city records. Links to sites that require payment to access the record are clearly identified.
Over 11 million burials are included in this online collection from subscription Web site FindMyPast.com. The information, taken from the National Burial Index (NBI), covers burials that took place in England and Wales between 1538 and 2005 (most burial entries are from the years prior to the enactment of civil registration in 1837). The NBI includes records extracted from parish registers, non-conformist registers, Roman Catholic, Jewish and other registers, as well as cemetery and cremation records. These record are available through an Explorer subscription, or by purchasing pay-per-view units.
This central online database of statutory burial and cremation registers for the UK and Republic of Ireland currently includes burial records from several London boroughs, the Kent & Sussex Crematorium and Tunbridge Wells Borough in addition to records from Angus, Scotland. Searches are free and offer basic information. Additional information associated with the records, including transcriptions or digital scans of burial and cremation register entries, grave details, photos of graves, and maps of grave locations, is available on a pay-per-view basis.
For individuals who died in the United States since about 1962, this nation-wide death index is a good place to begin your search. More than 77 million people (primarily Americans) are included, and their basic information (birth and death dates) can be located with a free online search. With the information found in the SSDI you can request a copy of the original Social Security application record (SS-5) for a fee, which may include such details as parents' names, employer and place of birth. Alternatively, you could use the information to narrow your search for the individual's death certificate or obituary.
This popular genealogy site requires an annual subscription to access its records, but offers a wealth of documents and indexes from all over the world. Death records in its collection include everything from digitized death certificates, to current obituaries, to cemetery and funeral home records.
Obituaries and death notices from 138+ newspapers totaling almost 2 million entries are indexed on this free, volunteer-supported Web site. The concentration is on New South Wales newspapers, specifically two Sydney newspapers the "Sydney Morning Herald" and the "Daily Telegraph," although some papers from other states are also included.
Your library card could be the key to free access to this online collection of more than 10 million obituaries and death notices appearing in top U.S. national newspapers dating back to 1851, with full digital images from the actual paper. This database includes obituaries from The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, The Atlanta Constitution, The Boston Globe and The Chicago Defender, among others.
This US-based, subscription genealogy service provides access to more than 115 million U.S. obituaries and death records from the last 30+ years (1977 - present).