Ancestry.com, Find-a-Grave and the Social Security Death Index are wonderful tools. We use them a great deal. But it's really important to understand their limitations so we don't over-rely on them.
A long-time genealogist shared the following story on a professional listserv. I obtained his permission to share it here:
Good morning APGer’s
I am doing a great deal of title searching for a client and have been trying to prove death for a person who died in 1974 in NEW YORK. Of course being NEW YORK put heavy limitations on how much I could do for my client.
The first report to me from a local researcher in NY said the person died on a certain date in a particular county in NY. Yes, the person was interred in a local cemetery in that county but the town/village clerk told me that this person did not die in the county. Next, this clerk did me a favor and pulled the burial permit for that cemetery and told me the name of the county where the actual death occurred.
The county of death was the next county adjacent to the north. I called the village clerk and she was so kind as to tell me she is in possession of the death record.
I reported to my client (an attorney) the village clerk would honor her request for this death record.
As I quickly learned the information on Ancestry was totally out of sync to prove the place of death for the decedent.
The SSDI and the info from FindAGrave was not adequate to find the needed information on the surface; it took some good old telephone calls and kind words to some clerks to provide me results.
Alvie L. Davidson CG
“Truth has no peer”