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Communtity Law Manual | A death in the family | Confirming and registering the death

Confirming and registering the death

Overview

Note: In this chapter, we use the term “the deceased” to refer to the person who has died.

When someone dies, the death and the cause of death have to be confirmed by a doctor or nurse, or sometimes by the coroner, before the body can be buried or cremated.

In most cases it will be confirmed by a doctor or nurse, who’ll issue a “Certificate of Cause of Death”. But if the death was accidental or involved violence in some way, or if the cause of death isn’t known, the death has to be reported to the local coroner; they’ll investigate if necessary, including by ordering a post-mortem (autopsy) if one is needed, and confirm the cause of death.

As well as this official confirmation of death, there are other documents the funeral director or relatives will need to complete or obtain from others – for example, special approval forms if the body is to be cremated.

After the deceased’s body has been buried or cremated, the death must be officially registered with Births, Deaths and Marriages at the Department of Internal Affairs, who’ll then issue an official “Death Certificate”.

This section of the chapter explains these processes and the different documents that are needed.

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