Early stages of a Coroner's Investigation

Once a death has been reported to the Coroner and the investigation into the death begins, you may have a number of questions.

Registering a death

A death should be registered within 5 days. However, this rule does not apply when the Coroner is investigating the death. The Coroner's Officers will tell you exactly what you need to do to register the death and when you can do so. Please do not make an appointment with registration until a Coroner's Officer has told you that you can.

The Funeral

Choosing a funeral director

You can make initial contact with a funeral director and discuss your personal wishes with them. However, we ask that a funeral date is not arranged until a Coroner's Officer has contacted you and told you what steps need to be taken. It will help if you have decided on a funeral director as soon as you feel able to do so. Please inform your Coroner's Officer when you have made that decision.

In most cases your loved one can be released to your funeral director as soon as an investigation or inquest has been opened. This will usually be within 5 working days. There are some circumstances which lead to a delay. If this applies a Coroner's Officer will explain the reason for this. We will do all we can to allow for the release of your loved one to your funeral director as soon as possible.

Arranging the funeral yourself

You do not have to choose a funeral director. You are entitled to make the arrangements yourself. To do this, you will need to complete a form that will be provided by the Coroner's Office. This will ask for details of the arrangements that have been put in place.

Can I see my loved one?

You are entitled to see your loved one and we will assist in making these arrangements. There may be occasions where this could be traumatic or delayed if specialist examinations are required. Your Coroner's Officer will tell you if this is the case.

Giving consent for a post mortem examination

The Coroner does not need consent to request a post mortem. They have a legal obligation to make enquires to find out the cause of death. If you have any objections to a post mortem examination please discuss this with the Coroner's Officer as soon as possible. They can then refer your concerns to the Coroner. The Coroner will avoid a post mortem unless it is absolutely necessary to establish the cause of death.

Concerns about the death

If you have any concerns about a death it is important that you raise this with your Coroner's Officer at the earliest opportunity. This is so that the Coroner is aware of any issues before making a decision. It is not for a Coroner to attribute any blame to an individual or an organisation. However, it is important that we are aware of any concerns as soon as possible.

Next of kin

The Coroner would usually consider the next of kin to be the person most closely related to the deceased for example:

  • spouse (even if estranged/separated)
  • children
  • parents

It is best if the family can identify one point of contact. This person will need to provide the Coroner's Office with the relevant information, such as:

  • funeral arrangements
  • registration details

We appreciate that this is sometimes difficult where there is a fracture in the family. We will speak to other family members where appropriate.

How we can support you

We understand that this is a very difficult time and you have a lot to take in and to arrange . Please contact us if you have any queries or questions, we are here to help. We can provide answers to many questions and can give information for other support services.

Making a complaint

We are committed to providing an excellent service to the bereaved and welcome any feedback, good and bad to continue to improve the service. If you are not happy about the service you have been given and would like to make a complaint. Please discuss your concerns initially with your Coroner's Officer. They can then refer them to a supervisor.

If you would like to contact the Coroner direct, you can send an email to cornwallcoroner@cornwall.gov.uk.

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