There are a number of main reasons why a medical certificate of cause of death may not be issued immediately and a referral to the Coroner made:
A death has been sudden, unexpected or within 24 hours of admission to hospital.
A person has been ill but the doctor confirming the death is not certain why it happened at that particular time.
A death has been caused as a result of an accident or unusual circumstances.
A surgical procedure has taken place within the last year.
The death may be related to a person’s employment (past or present).
The Coroner will look at the circumstances of the death and decide what happens next, this may take some time. The Coroner’s office will contact you directly to advise of the next steps.
Post mortem examinations
Post mortem examinations are sometimes necessary in order to establish the cause of death, and in these cases are required by the Coroner. If the Coroner orders a post mortem examination it becomes a legal obligation, and although you can raise any objections that you may have, there is no right to refusal.
Registering the death following a Coroner’s referral
If the Coroner has been involved there may be an additional delay whilst the Registrar awaits paperwork from the Coroner. This paperwork will not normally be issued until a member of the Coroner’s office has spoken to you.
If an inquest is required
A coroner must hold an inquest if the cause of death is still unknown or if the person; possibly died a violent or unnatural death or died in prison or police custody. You can’t register the death until after the inquest. The coroner is responsible for sending the relevant paperwork to the registrar and can give you an interim death certificate until the full death certificate can be issued. You can use this to let organisations know of the death and apply for probate. When the inquest is over the coroner will tell the registrar what to put in the register.
If no inquest is needed
The coroner will release the body for a funeral once they have completed the post-mortem examination and no further examinations are needed and they will send the appropriate paperwork to the Funeral Director and Registrar.
Doctor’s fee’s and Cremation Forms
There are two cremation certificates (Forms 4 & 5) which must be signed by two different Doctor’s prior to a Cremation taking place, the current charge is £82.00 per certificate. These certificates must be paid for and are listed under disbursements in our estimate and account, (these may not be required if the Coroner opens an investigation). Most Doctors will hand deliver the completed forms to the Funeral Director as this is considered part of the service to the deceased. However, if the Doctor refuses to deliver the form a mileage and associated staff time will be charged to the funeral account for collection of the document from the GP surgery.