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The coroner will hold an inquest if the:

  • death was violent or unnatural
  • cause of death is an industrial disease that needs to be reported
  • death occurred in prison, in police custody or is subject to a Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS)
  • cause of death is a result of any conduct by a police officer
  • death remains uncertain after post-mortem examination
  • body is lost (usually at sea)

If an inquest is held, the coroner must inform:

  • the married partner of the deceased
  • the nearest relative (if different)
  • a personal representative (if different from above)

Inquests are held in public (sometimes with a jury), relatives can attend and ask questions but usually only about the medical cause and circumstances of the death.

The coroner can give you an interim death certificate confirming the death whilst the inquest is proceeding which can be used for social security and national insurance purposes.

Document you'll get

If there is an inquest, the coroner will give you an order for burial (form 3) or a certificate for cremation (form 6) so a funeral can take place. This can be done before the inquest has finished if the body isn't needed for further examination.

In certain circumstances you may receive a different form, but you'll be told about these if you need them.