Why is the Coroner involved in the death of my loved one?

The Coroner is required by state law (Government Code Section 27491) to investigate all unnatural deaths or deaths where the attending Medical Doctor is unable to state a reasonable cause of death as well as cases where the deceased has not been seen by a doctor for 20 days prior to death. Our responsibility is to establish positive identity of the deceased; determine the place, date and time; and the cause and manner of death. The Coroner's investigation is not limited to the examination of the deceased, but may include interviews with family members and other witnesses, the collection of physical evidence and the safeguarding of personal property found at the death scene.

Where is my loved one being taken?

When necessary, your loved one is transported to the Coroner’s Facility in Modesto for autopsy or safekeeping, and later released to the family’s authorized funeral home or cremation service.

Can I see my loved one at the coroner's office?

The coroner's office does not permit viewing or visitation. The deceased will be released to a funeral home for viewing. For further information on your loved one's specific details, please contact the Coroner’s office during business hours.

What do I do now?

Contact the funeral home of your choice. They are prepared to assist you in making your selections and decisions. They will work closely with us to arrange the release of your loved one's remains from our facility. They will also guide you in deciding how many certified copies of the death certificate that you will need & order them for you when they file with the county.

Is an autopsy needed?

Autopsies are not always necessary with every death investigated by the coroner. Approximately 50% of all deaths investigated by this coroner's office do not involve an autopsy examination. Autopsies are performed only on those cases where it is required by law or where it is necessary to determine the cause of death. The coroner has the discretion to determine the extent of the inquiry.

Are there any Coroner fees?

In accordance with state law, a fee of $175.00 is charged for transportation and handling of the remains. The Funeral Home or Mortuary will generally bring a check for this amount when they come to the Coroner’s Office to pick up your loved one. This charge then becomes part of the funeral expense. All other costs associated with the autopsy examination are covered by the County and not charged to the estate or the family members.

When can I have the funeral?

The Coroner will complete the examination portion of the investigation as soon as possible. For further information on your loved one's specific details, please contact the Coroner’s Office. Our goal is to work with families in order to not delay funeral plans.

What if I have no money for funeral expenses?

If the deceased does not have sufficient funds for burial, the next of kin may apply for a county indigent disposition. Please contact the Coroner’s Office for an indigent disposition application. In these circumstances, proof of indigence is required. The family should contact the Coroner’s Office during business hours regarding an indigent disposition.

Can I find out the cause of death?

Yes, in the majority of cases. Information regarding a homicide investigation will not be released. Call the Coroner’s Office in the late afternoon to learn the results of an autopsy conducted that day. Any member of the staff can furnish you with the cause and manner of death appearing on the Death Certificate. Occasionally, to determine the cause of death further studies such as microscopic and toxicological tests must be performed. In these instances a "Pending" death certificate is released to the mortuary along with the deceased so that funeral services can be completed without delay. When these further studies or investigation have been completed and amended death certificate is issued. "Pending" death certificates can be purchased through the funeral home or Vital Statistics however, some financial, estate, probate or business matters may be dependent upon the final death certificate.

How do I get copies of the Death Certificate?

Certified copies of the Death Certificate initially are ordered for the family by the funeral director handling final arrangements.

How do I get copies of Coroner records?

A copy of the autopsy report can be purchased and may be ordered by mail or in person. During regular business hours, call the Coroner at (209) 567-4500 to learn the cost of the documents. When ordering by mail, please include the name of the deceased, date of death, Coroner Case Number and a check made payable to the Stanislaus County Coroner Office, 939 Oakdale Road Modesto, CA 95355.

How do I reclaim property taken by the Coroner?

The Coroner may release property directly to the legal next of kin or any other person furnishing written authorization from the legal next of kin. Property often is released with the remains to the funeral service making removal. Proof of identification must be provided in order to pick up property.