After completing the autopsy, the Medical Examiner generally issues a death certificate indicating the cause and manner. Frequently, determining the cause and manner requires additional investigation or information beyond the autopsy.
If the cause and manner are pending further study, a death certificate listing “pending” as the cause of death will be issued. Eventually the death certificate will be amended to reflect the actual cause of death. This process can take two to three months due to the complexity of toxicology and other testing and / or investigation that may be necessary to arrive at an exact cause of death.
Copies of death certificates are often needed to make insurance claims, transfer titles and to finish other official financial business. A pending death certificate can be used as proof of death. Some institutions will consider this document sufficient to complete certain transactions, such as closing a bank account. However, many institutions (such as insurance companies) may not accept a pending death certificate and may require the actual cause and manner.
View the death certificates page to find out how to receive a copy of a death certificate.