An unexpected side effect of Detroit’s bankruptcy filing in July – the inability for the city coroner’s office to provide residents with official death certificates.

The city was unable to print death certificates for a short time at the end of July, as it no longer had a supply of the special embossed paper required for the certificates. The company that had produced the paper requested that the city pay for the paper in cash, something it couldn’t do after the July 18 filing.

This forced the Michigan Select Funeral Directors Association to send text messages to funeral home directors – who need the official certificates to be paid by insurance companies – with the warning ”FYI, city of Detroit can’t process death certificates because they have no paper and don’t have money to buy any.”

Charita Butler, who along with her husband owns Butler Funeral Homes in Detroit, laughed when she told Red Alert Politics that she remembered trying to file death certificates the day the city ran out of paper.

“For us it was an inconvenience, but it wasn’t a huge inconvenience,” Butler said. ”You can’t get paid by the insurance companies if you don’t have a death certificate. So we try to quickly get them filed and get them to the insurance companies.”

Fortunately, the city was only out of paper for a few days. Butler told Red Alert that she and her husband tried to file the death certificates at the end of the week and were ultimately able to get them by the middle of the next week. She did have to wait to get the certificates until after that Monday, however, because of furlough days.

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