Coroner’s Office information for families

This information is for family members of a deceased person who is the subject of a Coroner’s investigation or inquest.

You can also refer to A Guide for Family and Friends on this website.

The Coroner’s Office:

  • will keep you informed whenever there is something to report (please note that the Coroner's Office is only required to deal with the senior next of kin)
  • may call you for further information (for example, about your relative's medical history)
  • can help you with your concerns or questions
  • cannot speculate about the cause of death until its investigation is complete.

Our Family Liaison Officer is able to assist next of kin, and those who have contact with the Coroner’s Office, to understand the coronial process and the role and legal powers of the Coroner.  They can provide you with general information about the inquest process.  This can include court familiarisation and practical information about attending an inquest, and supports available if required during an inquest.  For enquiries please email

If you have any questions or concerns about a coronial matter, please contact the Coroner’s Office:

  • Southern Coroners Office: call (03) 6165 7127 or (03) 6165 7134
  • Northern Coroners Office: call (03) 6777 2920

The senior next of kin will be the first available person on this list:

  1. the current spouse (which includes the other party to a ‘significant relationship’ according to the definition in the Relationships Act 2003)
  2. a son or daughter of over 18 years of age
  3. a person in a caring relationship (according to section 5 of the Relationships Act 2003)
  4. a parent
  5. a brother or sister of over 18 years of age
  6. an executor of the will
  7. a personal representative

If the deceased person is Aboriginal, the senior next of kin can also be an appropriate person according to the customs and tradition of the community or group that the person belonged to.

The deceased person will be taken to the mortuary at the Royal Hobart Hospital or Launceston General Hospital.

Usually the body is released after a day, but sometimes there may be delays.

Until the body is released, the Coroner is in charge of it.

Usually the police officer or the mortuary ambulance officer attending the death will ask a relative, friend or work colleague to identify the deceased person, at the place of the death.

However sometimes the deceased person must be identified at the mortuary. You’ll be notified by the Coroner’s Office when you can do this. To reduce any trauma as much as possible, you’ll view their body through a glass panel, and shown only what is needed for identification. You can take a friend with you for support.

Please bring with you details of your relative's:

  • full name and address
  • date of birth
  • relatives (spouse/partner, children, parents and so on).

The Coroner usually orders an autopsy if a doctor won’t issue a medical certificate for the cause of death.

An autopsy is an external and internal examination of the body to work out the cause of death. It’s usually done within 48 hours.

Yes, if you’re the most senior next of kin. You should do so as soon as possible after the death.

Call the Coroner’s Office (24 hours a day) and staff will advise you of your rights and obligations. You’ll then need to put your objection in writing.

The Coroner will consider your objection, and discuss their decision with you.

The pathologist normally keeps blood and/or tissue to examine. Sometimes they need to keep organs.

This can take several weeks to complete and could affect your funeral arrangements.

If you have any concerns, please discuss this with your funeral director, the Coroner’s Office, or a grief counsellor.

You can apply online or at a Service Tasmania shop. There will be a fee.

Give your funeral director your instructions, and they’ll liaise with the Coroner’s Office to make sure your wishes are met as soon and as far as possible.

The Coroner’s Office cannot recommend a funeral director.

Sometimes the Coroner may prevent a cremation, and require burial instead; in case there is need for further investigation.

The Coroner’s Officer may need the deceased’s possessions to be held until the investigation is complete.

The Police Property Office is usually responsible for these possessions.

You can call the Coroner’s Office to find out if you can collect them. However please note that if clothing or shoes are damaged, wet or soiled, they’ll be disposed of.