If your loved one has been taken to the coroner after their death, it can be a confusing and stressful experience. Here’s a guide as to what will happen, and how to ensure your loved one gets laid to rest.

When is the coroner involved?

A coroner may be called to investigate a death for a number of reasons, generally if the deceased person’s identity or the cause of death was not known.

If the cause of death was unclear, suspicious, or a result of a workplace incident, the police will be called and they will likely arrange for the deceased to be taken to the coroner to determine the cause of death.

What’s the first step after my loved one has been collected?

The coroner’s office will get in touch in regards to the first steps needing to be taken. Generally, they will need to talk to the senior next of kin.

Confirming identity.

The coroner needs to confirm the identity of the person who has died. This can include visual or medical and scientific identification methods. If visual identification is needed, you may be asked to come to the coroner’s office to identify your loved one. 

To identify a loved one, you must be a family member or someone who knew the person well at the time of their death. The staff will schedule a viewing appointment for you during office hours. Medical or scientific methods of identification include using dental records, fingerprinting or DNA comparisons. The coroner will decide the most appropriate method of identification and the staff will let you know the process that will be used.

Determining cause of death.

Medical examinations are carried out to help the coroner work out the cause of a person’s death. Even if the cause of death seems obvious, it is important that the coroner is able to find out exactly what happened.

Cause of death is determined in two ways: a preliminary examination and an autopsy. An autopsy may not always be necessary, but if the coroner needs to perform one, the office will contact you to explain the process and answer any questions you may have.

Personal belongings.

Police may need to hold onto some personal belongings for their investigation. Anything not needed will be passed onto the funeral director, who will return them to the family.

Contacting Bare.

If your loved one has been taken to the coroner, please call us during business hours. Although the coroner may take a number of days before they allow us to collect your loved one, you do not need to wait until that time to reach out. Call us as soon as you are ready so we can register ourselves as your funeral director with the coroner in good time.

We will then liaise with the coroner and receive instruction from them when we are allowed to bring your loved one into our care.

In the phone call we will ask you:

  • Deceased’s full name
  • Date of birth
  • Date of death
  • The coroner case number for your loved one
  • Who the next of kin registered with the coroner is
  • Which hospital or coroners’ facility they are at

Getting the death certificate.

The coroner and funeral director will register the death with Births, Deaths & Marriages (BDM) with important information following a death. The coroner needs to provide details about the cause of death before BDM can issue a standard death certificate, so there may be a delay if cause of death is difficult to determine. 

If the coroner has not yet established the cause of death, BDM can issue an interim death certificate. However, as an interim death certificate does not include the cause of death, it may not be accepted for all official purposes. 

The coroner’s office should also be able to provide a “confirmation of death” letter confirming that there has been a death. However, this letter is not accepted by all financial or legal institutions for official purposes, so closing bank accounts or issuing probate may need to be delayed until the cause of death is discovered.

Final thoughts about the coroner’s investigation.

The coroner will always do their best to investigate in a timely manner, but they need time to fully investigate the death if the cause is unknown. At Bare, we’re here to answer all of your questions throughout this time and can contact the coroner on your behalf. 

We're always here for you. If you're in need of a cremation, please give us a call on 1800 071 176 or head here to our Funeral Services page for more information.