Medical Records of Deceased Patients

Who May Obtain Copies of Medical Records For A Deceased Patient?

A patient retains their right to keep their medical records private even after death. Both HIPAA and California laws continue to protect the use or disclosure of protected health information after the death of the patient.

In order to release the protected health information of a deceased patient the following required information must be presented:

  • A valid Authorization to Release Medical Information
  • A copy of the death certificate

The authorization must be signed and dated by either the Beneficiary or Personal Representative of the deceased patient. The law states that a “beneficiary” is anyone who will inherit from the patient by Will or estate [Probate Code Section 24] and a “personal representative” is either the executor of the Will, administrator of the patient’s estate, successor personal representative or public administrator [Probate Code Section 58].

In California, proof of beneficiary or personal representative status must be obtained prior to the release of records.

If there is a Will, this could be a copy of the title page, pages indicating the executor and/or beneficiaries and the last page where the patient/deceased individual signed the Will. If there is no Will or named executor, a court document is required (i.e., Letters (Probate)) which names the personal representative.

Upon receipt of the required documents, we will make every effort to provide the requested records to you as soon as possible. However, please remember that it may take up to 14 days to process your request.