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Coroner and inquest probate solicitors
If a death is reported to the coroner, this can impact on the process of winding up the deceased person's affairs. This process is called probate.
Our probate solicitors can provide advice and guidance on how the probate process works when a death has been reported to the coroner. We can apply for probate on your behalf and take care of the legal, tax and administrative work for you. We can also work closely with our Personal Injury Inquest Solicitors if you have an ongoing claim.
Why are deaths reported to the coroner?
It's not uncommon for deaths to be reported to the coroner – currently 45% of all deaths are reported to the coroner. The role of the coroner is to establish why, when and how a person has died, and they may decide that an inquest into the death is needed to establish these facts.
Reasons why a death may be reported to the coroner include:
- Unknown cause of death
- Violent or unnatural cause of death
- The death was sudden and unexplained
- The deceased wasn't seen by a medical practitioner during their final illness
- There is no medical certificate available
- If there is a medical certificate, the doctor who signed this didn't see the deceased within 14 days either before or after their death
- The death occurred during an operation while the person was under general anaesthetic
- The medical certificate suggests that the cause of death could be an industrial disease or industrial poisoning
If the cause of death is clear, then the coroner may decide that a coroner's inquest is not needed. However, the coroner must hold a coroner's inquest if:
- After post-mortem, the cause of death is still unknown
- The person possibly died a violent or unnatural death
- The person died in prison or police custody
How does a coroner's inquest impact on probate?
When a loved one dies, their affairs will need to be wound up and their Estate distributed to those entitled to inherit it. This process is commonly referred to as Probate and, depending on the size of the Estate, a Grant of Representation may be needed to carry out this work.
When a death is reported to the coroner, the death cannot be registered until the coroner has reached their conclusion (either following the post mortem or following the inquest, if one is held). However, the coroner will be able to provide an interim death certificate which can be used to notify organisations of the person's death and to apply for the Grant of Representation.
If it is found that the death has been caused by the actions of a third party (for example, an employer, medical practitioner or defendant driver) then it may be possible to make a Personal Injury or Medical Negligence Claim. In this situation, Probate will always be needed to deal with compensation payments that are awarded to the Estate.