Recording death in MLS

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crislapi
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Recording death in MLS

Postby crislapi » Mon Jan 26, 2009 12:45 pm

I have heard from a ward clerk that he cannot record a death in MLS until he receives a copy of the death certificate. I have dug into MLS help and this forum trying to find some basis for that comment without any luck. The death occurred a year ago (child in a family) and still has not been taken care of. Before having to approach the family a year after the fact, I thought I'd see if this really is the instruction.

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aebrown
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Postby aebrown » Mon Jan 26, 2009 12:59 pm

crislapi wrote:I decided to ask a continuation question hear rather than starting a new thread. Hope that's ok.

I have heard from a ward clerk that he cannot record a death in MLS until he receives a copy of the death certificate. I have dug into MLS help and this forum trying to find some basis for that comment without any luck. The death occurred a year ago (child in a family) and still has not been taken care of. Before having to approach the family a year after the fact, I thought I'd see if this really is the instruction.


I've never heard of that specific requirement. In the MLS Software Manual, it simply says:

Recording a Death
1. On the MLS menu bar, click Membership. Click Records. Click Death of Member.
2. Type the name of the person who died and press Enter, or find the name on the list and click OK.
3. In the Death Date field, enter the date in the format shown on the screen.
4. Click Close. Click Save.


Of course, it would be good to have some sort of document you are working from to make the record accurate (not just, "it seems like it was back around the 12th of December"). But an obituary, funeral program, etc. would seem adequate.

It seems like you could ask that ward clerk (in a kind, non-confrontational manner) where he read about that requirement. In general, it seems to me that the Church is careful to document its requirements, but that sometimes well-intentioned people make up requirements because they think it's a good idea, or "that's how we've always done it."

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mkmurray
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Postby mkmurray » Mon Jan 26, 2009 1:49 pm

Alan_Brown wrote:I've never heard of that specific requirement. In the MLS Software Manual, it simply says:



Of course, it would be good to have some sort of document you are working from to make the record accurate (not just, "it seems like it was back around the 12th of December"). But an obituary, funeral program, etc. would seem adequate.

It seems like you could ask that ward clerk (in a kind, non-confrontational manner) where he read about that requirement. In general, it seems to me that the Church is careful to document its requirements, but that sometimes well-intentioned people make up requirements because they think it's a good idea, or "that's how we've always done it."

There are some things you need official documents for in order to record them in MLS, correct? Some sort of physical evidence (whether just cautionary or for legal reasons) for ordinances or marriages?

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aebrown
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Postby aebrown » Mon Jan 26, 2009 2:22 pm

mkmurray wrote:There are some things you need official documents for in order to record them in MLS, correct? Some sort of physical evidence (whether just cautionary or for legal reasons) for ordinances or marriages?


The training lesson Correcting Membership Records provides this interesting (but frustratingly incomplete) statement:

For some errors, Church policy requires the bishop to verify the information. This means he must use official Church or legal documents to check the information given by the member before you make corrections.
Examples include:

  • Missing or incorrect ordinance information.
  • A missing or incorrect birth date.
  • And changes to a member’s legal name.
Other errors require no verification. For example, you do not need to verify information that members provide for:

  • Address or telephone number changes.
  • Spelling corrections.
The reference to "Church policy" would seem to imply that this policy is actually detailed somewhere. I don't have access to a Handbook right now, so I don't know if that level of detail is included there. But the online resources I can find don't seem to be definitive on the subject of the level of documentation required for recording a death.

The Updating Membership Records training lesson seems to imply a more relaxed standard:

Clerks have the responsibility to update Church records. Members, home teachers, and ward leaders have the responsibility to assist the clerk by giving him updated information.
Members should tell the clerk when there is a change of residential address, a civil marriage, or a divorce. If members do not provide this information about themselves, home teachers should provide the information if possible.
The clerk should also actively seek out this information so that he can update Church records.
Certainly that statement about home teachers providing the information seems to be quite a bit looser than the clerk having an actual official document. The only situation mentioned in this lesson as needing a document is a change in the birth date (which matches one of the specific instances mentioned in the Correcting Membership Records lesson cited above):

The birth date should be the date on the member’s birth certificate. Do not change the birth date unless there is an error or the birth date has been legally changed, as verified by legal documents.

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aebrown
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Postby aebrown » Mon Jan 26, 2009 2:33 pm

mkmurray wrote:There are some things you need official documents for in order to record them in MLS, correct? Some sort of physical evidence (whether just cautionary or for legal reasons) for ordinances or marriages?


Also, in the case of recording a civil marriage, the MLS Help File says specifically that we are to have a legal document:

A civil marriage is one performed for time only by someone with legal authority to do so. This is not reported by any Church entity and so must be reported by the ward or branch. Get a copy of the marriage certificate before proceeding....

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Postby jbh001 » Tue Jan 27, 2009 1:43 pm

crislapi wrote:I have heard from a ward clerk that he cannot record a death in MLS until he receives a copy of the death certificate.
I have never heard of this before, and it seems a rather extreme requirement. I would think that any publicly recorded information would be sufficient for this, such as an obituary, or verifying the information from the tombstone at the cemetery. I would guess that your clerk has taken the instruction for needing to see the legal documents before making name changes and adding adoptive children a bit too far.

Asking to see a death certificate seems tacky and insensitive except for insurance companies and bill collectors, especially when the information can be readily and reliably obtained from other sources without being intrusive to the family.

"Yes brother Smith, I know I dedicated the grave at your son's funeral, but I still need to see the death certificate before we can record it on the records of the Church."

I guess the big question is whether anyone is concerned that the report of death is inaccurate or that someone might otherwise be trying to perpetrate a fraud or something else illegal by reporting the death.

If the person actually died, and this is verifiable independent of contacting the family, then the insistence that the clerk must see the death certificate is highly inappropriate. (IMO)

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Postby jbh001 » Tue Jan 27, 2009 1:53 pm

Alan_Brown wrote:A civil marriage is one performed for time only by someone with legal authority to do so. This is not reported by any Church entity and so must be reported by the ward or branch. Get a copy of the marriage certificate before proceeding....
Even when the civil marriage was performed by the bishop? Can't I just ask the bishop himself when he performed the marriage?

I agree that as a general rule, it is always best to ask for documentation. But there are common sense exceptions and alternatives to those general rules.

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aebrown
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Postby aebrown » Tue Jan 27, 2009 1:58 pm

jbh001 wrote:Even when the civil marriage was performed by the bishop? Can't I just ask the bishop himself when he performed the marriage?

I agree that as a general rule, it is always best to ask for documentation. But there are common sense exceptions and alternatives to those general rules.


I was just quoting the MLS Help File as a helpful reference on this topic. Local priesthood leaders have the responsibility to learn and interpret the policy.

In that specific situation, given that the bishop has responsibility for the accuracy of membership records in his ward, and given that he performed the marriage himself, I would certainly yield to the direction of the bishop if he said to forego reviewing the actual marriage certificate.

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Postby russellhltn » Tue Jan 27, 2009 2:09 pm

Requiring to see a marriage certificate before recording it in the records seems to be a sure way to cause a number of the inactives to remain "single". I fully support accuracy in the records, but in this case requiring to see legal documentation seems to invite inaccuracy.

Having legal documentation to preform the marriage is a different thing.
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mkmurray
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Postby mkmurray » Tue Jan 27, 2009 2:32 pm

RussellHltn wrote:Requiring to see a marriage certificate before recording it in the records seems to be a sure way to cause a number of the inactives to remain "single". I fully support accuracy in the records, but in this case requiring to see legal documentation seems to invite inaccuracy.

While I agree with you and jbh001 that common sense may make the requirement of a legal document unnecessary, I feel I still must state that the decision is really up to your local leadership. I ask my Bishop for each individual case if he feels it would be necessary to ask for a legal document or not, and this I do because I know he has been willing to forego the requirement in the past.


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