When can I arrange the funeral?

The referral of a death to the coroner does not usually lead to a significant delay in arranging the funeral of the person who has died. While the coroner is carrying out the investigation you can choose a funeral director and plan the content of the funeral or investigate making your own arrangements. However it is unwise to book a definite date for the funeral until the coroner’s office contacts you to confirm that the funeral can take place.

There are exceptions when there can be a delay. Even if a post-mortem examination does not immediately discover the cause of death, it is usually possible for the pathologist to carry on their tests using samples from the deceased person’s body. Occasionally though it may be necessary for the deceased person to be kept until the cause of death is found. There is more information about this in the information pathway on post-mortem examinations.

The other main reason for a funeral to be delayed is when it is possible that someone may be facing criminal prosecution relating to the cause of death. In this cause their defence team may ask the coroner for a second examination. The coroner is impartial and any examination carried out for the coroner is independent. However a second pathologist may interpret what they find in a slightly different way. This is important if the person who died had a disease that may have contributed to their death in addition to the criminal act that the defendant is alleged to have committed.

You will be kept informed about what is happening to the person who has died. If it seems there will be a delay in identifying someone to be charged with causing the death, the coroner himself may order a second post-mortem examination so these results are available to the defence at a later date if needed.

Coroners will release the deceased person for a funeral to take place as soon as they possibly can. They do understand how important this is to most families.