Dealing with death is difficult enough without worrying about all the procedures involved. This page provides you with a brief overview of the legal steps which are required when somebody dies.

If you need help working through grief, or just need somebody to talk to, you can always call a help line. If you or the deceased are victims of crime, the Department of Justice offers victim services to assist you.

Not all deaths are reported to the Office of the Chief Coroner. If the death was sudden or unexpected, the coroner will conduct a death investigation to determine the identity of the deceased, the circumstances by which they came to their death, and a classification of the manner of death. The coroner issues a warrant to take possession of the body for their investigation.

The Coroner Service is assisted by RCMP in coroner cases. In cases where the death is considered suspicious or foul play is apparent, the RCMP will lead a criminal investigation and will be assisted by the Coroner Service.

A coroner's investigation is a fact finding investigation and does not assign fault or blame.

The coroner completes and provides a Death Registration Statement to Vital Statistics. Once the registration is complete, you can request a death certificate as proof of the death.

A death certificate is legal proof of a death, and may be required to settle an estate, or to receive entitlements for benefits such as pensions and insurance. A death must be registered with Vital Statistics before the certificate can be issued.

If you are the deceased's next of kin, you may wish to contact a lawyer to assist you with the administration of the deceased's estate (the deceased's property). In specific situations such as when the next of kin are children or otherwise unable to make legal decisions, the Public Trustee may be involved in the estate administration process.

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