There are always circumstances where a person dies in their sleep or at home of natural causes. However, this can put an individual in a predicament if they are not aware of the proper procedures to follow, especially, when the initial circumstances might be stressful, emotional, and life-altering. There are steps that need to be taken in a specific manner to assure that all bases are covered, and that no uncertainties are unturned.
If you discover a body or the death is sudden or unexpected, you should contact the following people:
- Family Physician
- Closest relatives
- Relevant clergy
If you suspect that the death was not due to natural causes, do not contaminate the scene by touching or moving the body or surroundings. The death should always be reported to the coroner in these circumstances. The doctor can request permission to perform an autopsy. This is a medical examination of the body, which discovers the cause of death; however it will not interfere or delay a funeral.
Contact the physician who was in charge of treating the patient. The doctor can commonly certify the cause of death of the individual. They will proceed to provide you with:
- The medical certificate or document that states the cause of death. It is usually sealed for privacy in an envelope and given to the associated person.
- A legal certificate that states that the attending physician has signed the medical certificate. This will also explain how to obtain the registration of death.
- You may wish to contact the deceased’s Minister of Religion if you have not already done so. Arrangements for the funeral should also be made with your chosen Funeral Director.
Reporting The Death To The Local Coroner:
In any of the following circumstance the doctor may report the death to the coroner:
- An injury , illness, or death
- An industrial disease
- After release from a surgical procedure
If the death was unexplained or abrupt, for example a sudden infant death (crib death), and if cause of death is not known:
- You will be guided through the process. and be advised on whether or not the death can be reported to a coroner, and have to wait to make funeral arrangements and to receive the death registration. If this is the scenario you will have to patiently await the coroner’s authorization. Then the coroner will advise and contact the necessary relatives.
- A Coroner can order an autopsy, in this case without the permission of relatives. This procedure will exemplify the cause of death. The coroner may also wish to perform an inquest and investigate situation leading up to the occurrence of death.
- When an investigation (inquest) is mandated, the Coroners Officer will contact the relatives. However, no need to be concerned this is a common legal formality in death.
In such cases the Death Certificate will be issued direct to you from the Coroner’s Officer. The relatives must then go to register the death. When an inquest is to be held, the death cannot be registered until the conclusion of the inquest, but a certificate will normally be issued at the opening of the inquest to allow the funeral to take place.
Registering a Death:
You are legally required to register a death. A death should normally be registered within 5 days unless the coroner is investigating the circumstances surrounding the death. You need to register a death to obtain documents for the funeral director and for dealing with the deceased’s estate.
If you are having any difficulty in dealing with the deceased’s property, possessions or guardianship of their children, get advice from an attorney.