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New York speeds death certificate procedure, bank access for victims’ families

SHARE New York speeds death certificate procedure, bank access for victims’ families

ALBANY, N.Y. — Gov. George Pataki signed an executive order Monday that will allow relatives of World Trade Center attack victims to get death certificates within days instead of years.

As of Monday, more than 6,400 people were missing and feared dead at the trade center. New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said lawyers will be available at a family center later this week to help families with the paperwork necessary to obtain death certificates.

The executive order is intended to help families file insurance claims, disburse estates and withdraw as much as $15,000 from bank and money market accounts that are in victims' names.

Before the order, a state Bar Association official said it can take up to three years to obtain a death certificate for a person presumed dead. The waiting period is part of an anti-fraud measure in state regulations.

Pataki also said insurance companies in New York will accept uniform affidavits in place of death certificates. The state Workers Compensation Board will also suspend its practice of requiring death certificates for families seeking benefits.

The order removes filing fees for families handling the estates or financial affairs of victims. Families will also be able to avoid purchasing newspaper legal notices, as usually required, and will be able to file proceedings in any county, rather than in the victim's home county.