Only the coroner can release a body for burial or cremation and will do so as soon
as possible. This may be after a post mortem, but laboratory tests of organs and
tissues (Section 5), crucial in confirming the cause of death, or ongoing criminal
investigations can delay funeral arrangements. The coroner may agree that the funeral
can take place before all the laboratory tests are complete, but you may prefer to
wait until all organs removed during the post mortem examination are returned (Section
10) to your relative.
The Coroner’s Officer or Police Family Liaison Officer (FLO) should maintain contact
with you and keep you informed. Funeral directors also maintain contact with the
Coroner's Officer and you could find it helpful to contact your chosen funeral director
as soon as you feel able to do so.
From the 1st January 2009, bereaved relatives have a right to inspect the required
medical certificates before cremation. If you wish to do this you must do so within
48 hours of being told that the required medical certificates are available.
The Department of Works and Pensions booklet D49 ‘What to do after a Death in England
and Wales’ provides information about administrative matters, including how to arrange
a funeral and how to obtain financial help if needed. The booklet can be obtained
from local Department of Works and Pensions or Social Services Offices.