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How do I find out if someone is dead?

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Red rose on gravestone in cemetery
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Question: How do I find out if someone is dead?
An About.com reader recently wrote in with this question: "I'm trying to track down someone I used to know, I believe they passed away several years ago, but I haven't had much luck tracking him down. Are there ways to find this information online?"
Answer: There are a number of resources you can use to find out if someone has passed away. The most direct method is simply to type the person's name into a search engine, i.e., Google. Use quotes around the name to specify that you want the search engine to search for the entire name, with both the first and the last name right next to each other: "John Smith". If the person has had any kind of presence online, their name will pop up in the search results. You can filter these results (again, using Google as our example search engine) by clicking on the options on the left-hand side of the browser: News, Images, Videos, etc.

Here are a few more ways you can track down information about someone online.

  • Obituary Searches: An obituary is usually published online by local newspapers, if they have a website, and is kept up online for at least a couple of weeks. Older obituaries can be tracked down with a little bit of detective work, including historical obituaries.
  • The Best Free People Search Sites: A general search engine query doesn't always bring back the information that you're looking for. There are many quality Web sites out there that focus specifically on only retrieving people-oriented information, such as names, addresses, phone numbers, and more, including information on whether someone has passed away recently.
  • Top Ten Free Public Records Search Picks: Sites that focus only on public records can be incredibly useful resources for digging up all sorts of information, including vital, historical, and genealogical records.

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