FAQ

Office of the Coroner | Broomfield & Adams County

Below is a list of frequently asked questions. If the answer to your question is not found within, please contact the office of the Coroner. Click on the + sign to read more.

Why is the Office of the Coroner investigating my loved one’s death?
The Office of the Coroner is governed by Colorado Revised Statutes (Colorado law). These statutes require that the Chief Coroner, or her/his designated personnel, investigate certain types of deaths. If the Office of the Coroner is involved in investigating the death of your loved one, it is likely because the circumstances of your loved one’s death require investigation by the Office of the Coroner under Colorado law.

Where is the Chief Coroner’s representative taking my deceased loved one?
Your loved one will be taken to the Office of the Coroner of Adams and Broomfield Counties, located at 330 North 19th Avenue in Brighton, Colorado 80601.

How do I contact the Office of the Coroner?
Coroner personnel may be reached by emailing CoronerQuestions@adcogov.org or by calling (303)659-1027. The office is open Monday through Friday from 8 AM to 5 PM. The office closes daily from 12 PM to 1 PM. The office is also closed on holidays and staff development days. To better serve you, it is best that you call the office to convey your needs before coming in. If you come to the office you will be required to produce proof of identification. Please bring a government-issued photo identification card (driver’s license, state identification card, or passport) with you. If you call the office you may be asked questions to verify your identity and relationship to the deceased. If you are NOT the deceased individual’s legal next-of-kin, minimal information may be released to you.

What happens next?
Your loved one will arrive at the Office of the Coroner and personnel there will continue to investigate your loved one’s death. This investigation is done through a variety of means. Your loved one will stay at the Office of the Coroner until the office releases your loved one’s body to the mortuary that you (the legal next-of-kin) select for your loved one’s final arrangements (funeral, burial, cremation, etc).

Who is the deceased individual’s legal next-of-kin?
Per Colorado Revised Statutes, the legal next-of-kin is designated to the following person(s) and progresses in the following order:

Per Colorado Revised Statutes, the legal next-of-kin is designated to the following person(s) and progresses in the following order:

  1. Personal representative or special administrator of the deceased individual’s estate.
  2. The surviving spouse of the deceased, if not legally separated.
  3. A person with the right to direct the disposition of the deceased’s last remains pursuant to a designated beneficiary agreement.
  4. A majority of the deceased’s surviving adult children (biological or legally adopted).
  5. A majority of the deceased’s parents or legal guardians.
  6. A majority of the deceased’s surviving adult siblings.

*Please be prepared to provide documentation establishing your relationship to the deceased.

What do I do next?
We recommend that you seek support from family and friends to assist you in getting through this difficult time. If you are the legal next-of-kin to the deceased individual or the executor of his/her estate, you need to begin making final arrangements for your loved one. Once you have selected a mortuary to handle your loved one’s final arrangements they will guide you and help you to fill out all of the necessary paperwork.

When will my loved one’s body be released by the Office of the Coroner?
In most circumstances, your loved one’s body is available for release to a mortuary in 2-4 days after his/her death. The Office of the Coroner will NOT release your loved one’s body until the legal next-of-kin has authorized which mortuary to release the body to. An authorization form is signed by the legal next-of-kin at the mortuary that the legal next-of-kin has selected.

What mortuary should I use?
The Office of the Coroner is a government office. Coroner personnel do not refer mortuaries or deter individuals from using any mortuary. Mortuaries can be found on the internet and in the phone book. We encourage you to consult with your family and friends for recommendations. Valuable information regarding funeral services can be found on the website for the Federal Trade Commission (www.ftc.gov) under consumer protection.

Do I have to pay for the Coroner’s services (autopsy, investigation, specimen testing etc.
The Office of the Coroner is a county government office, funded by tax dollars. Standard services performed by the Office of the Coroner, on cases under the jurisdiction of the office, are of no additional cost to the deceased individual’s immediate family.

What about organ/tissue or whole body donation?
The deceased individual must meet certain criteria to be eligible for organ, tissue, and/or whole-body donation. Additionally, deaths under the investigation of the Office of the Coroner require the approval of Coroner staff for donation to proceed. Sometimes the circumstances of the death will prevent donation from occurring. With the consent from the legal next of kin, a donation will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Additional information on organ and tissue donation can be found at the procurement organization websites listed under the RESOURCES tab of this website.

Will my loved one receive a postmortem autopsy?
Autopsies are performed at the discretion of the Chief Coroner, in accordance with Colorado law and forensic standards of practice. The decision is based on the circumstances of your loved one’s death. Autopsies are not performed on everyone. If you have a specific reason for wanting an autopsy performed on a loved one, please convey this to the Office of the Coroner staff.

How will I know if an autopsy is performed on my loved one?
You may call the Office of the Coroner, during business hours, to find out if an autopsy will be or has been performed. You (the legal next of kin) may also receive notification, from the office via postal mail, advising that an autopsy has been performed.

What if I do NOT want an autopsy to be performed?
Please let us know why you may or may not want an autopsy performed on your loved one. In some cases, we may be able to accommodate your request. However, please understand that autopsies authorized by the Chief Coroner are not elective and do not require the consent of the next-of-kin.

What if I do want an autopsy performed and the Chief Coroner decides not to perform an autopsy?
If the Chief Coroner declines to do an autopsy, the deceased individual’s legal next-of-kin can privately hire a pathologist to perform an autopsy. The associated cost ranges from approximately $2000.00 to $5000.00 and is the responsibility of the legal next-of-kin. Pathologists available for private hire, to perform an autopsy, can be found on the internet, by contacting other County Coroner Offices, or by calling 1-800-AUTOPSY.

My loved one had an autopsy. When will the final results be available?
The autopsy procedure is a very comprehensive examination. The process and the associated testing that is completed are time-consuming. The final report (referred to as the autopsy report) is usually available ten to twelve weeks after the autopsy. If you would like to find out if there are preliminary autopsy findings, you may call and request to speak with the Chief Coroner about preliminary findings.

My loved one had an autopsy. How do I get a copy of the autopsy report?
In most cases, the autopsy report is a public record. A written request must be submitted to the Office in order to receive a copy of the autopsy report. For your convenience, a request form can be found under the FORMS tab on this website. Please follow the instructions on the form. If you are not a member of the deceased’s immediate family, you will be required to pay for a copy of the autopsy report.

My loved one had an autopsy. Will we still be able to have an open casket at the funeral?
The surgical procedures used to perform the autopsy do not interfere with having an open casket funeral.

My loved one had property on or with him/her when he/she passed away. How do I get these items back?
In MOST circumstances all CLOTHING that your loved one was wearing at the time of his/her death will be released to the mortuary with your loved one’s body. In MOST circumstances all other property is stored in safekeeping at the Office of the Coroner until it can be returned to you (the legal next-of-kin).

If you are the deceased individual’s legal next-of-kin or executor of his/her estate, you may call the Office of the Coroner and make arrangements to obtain the property. Please call the office first, to ensure that the property is available for release to you. You will be required to produce proof of identification and may be required to produce other documentation to retrieve the items.

*Please note the days and hours that the office is open to the public.

There is blood and other biohazardous material in the location where my loved one died. Who can I call to help clean the area?
There are numerous biohazard and crime scene clean-up companies that can be found on the internet and in the phone book. You may also contact your local law enforcement agency for referrals.

Do I need to identify the deceased individual’s body?
We do not need you to come to the office to identify your loved one. If you are needed to assist in the identification process, we will contact you.

Can I come to your office to view my loved one’s body?
We highly recommend that you wait to view your loved one in the comfort of a mortuary setting. The Office of the Coroner is not equipped to prepare the deceased for a traditional viewing. The decision to allow viewing of the deceased, at the Office of the Coroner, is made on a case-by-case basis. You MUST contact the Office in advance to request a viewing. If authorized, viewings are done during business hours and by appointment only. Time constraints apply and a maximum of six individuals may attend a viewing. You MUST be at least eighteen years of age to view your loved one at the Office of the Coroner. You MUST be an immediate family member (spouse, child, parent, sibling, or grandparent to the deceased) or accompanied by the legal next-of-kin, in order to view at the Office of the Coroner. You MUST bring a government-issued photo identification card with you to the viewing. You MUST sign the appropriate forms at the Office.

How do I get a death certificate?
The Office of the Coroner does not issue death certificates to the general public. Death certificates may be obtained through the mortuary that handled your loved one’s final arrangements. Death certificates are also available through the Vital Records Section of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment www.cdphe.state.co.us/ Ph: 303-692-2200.

If an autopsy was performed on your loved one, a death certificate will not be completed and certified until the autopsy results are finalized. This typically takes ten to twelve weeks following the autopsy. In the meantime, the Office of the Coroner will issue a Certified Letter of Death to the legal next of kin.

I have family members in the military. How do I notify them of the death?
The American Red Cross can assist you in notifying family members in the military and with arranging for their return home. They can be reached at 303-722-7474.

What do I do if I cannot afford to pay for final arrangements (burial/cremation) for my loved one?
If your loved one was a veteran, you may contact Veteran’s Affairs toll free at 1-800-827-1000 or electronically via the internet at https://iris.va.gov for funeral assistance that may be available to you. Also, the website for Veterans Affairs has many resources available that may help to cover the cost of final disposition arrangements for veterans and/or their immediate family members. The website address is www.va.gov.

If you cannot afford burial/cremation arrangements you may also qualify for monetary assistance through county programs. Contact Social Services for the county in which your loved one resided:

Adams County: 303-287-8831
Arapahoe County: 303-636-1170
Boulder County: 303-441-1000
Broomfield County: 720-887-2243
Denver County 720-944-2176
Douglas County: 303-688-4825
Jefferson County: 303-271-4006
Larimer County: 970-498-6300
Weld County: 970-352-1551

There are also alternative final arrangements available (involving little or no cost) that your loved one may qualify for, such as medical research/donation. Time constraints exist on these programs, so please contact the Office of the Coroner as soon as possible if you are interested or for more information.

Where do I obtain resources for coping with the death of my loved one?
Helpful grief resources are listed under the GRIEF SUPPORT tab of this website.

My loved one died in another county and the coroner there declined to do an autopsy. Can I pay for an autopsy through the Adams and Broomfield County Office of the Coroner?
Yes, this is referred to as a private autopsy. Please contact the Office for more information.

I want to work for the Office of the Coroner. What qualifications do I need and how do I apply?
Current job openings, as well as the minimum qualifications for all entry level positions with the Office of the Coroner, are listed under the OPPORTUNITIES tab of this website.

All applications must be submitted through the Adams County Government website www.adcogov.org. Applications sent directly to the Office of the Coroner will not be considered.

I would like to volunteer, see an autopsy, or do an internship. Where do I start?
The minimum qualifications required to obtain an internship with Office of the Coroner are listed under the OPPORTUNITIES tab of this website.

All internship applications must be submitted through the Adams County Government website www.adcogov.org.

Due to the nature of the work, volunteer opportunities are limited with the Office of the Coroner. Any available volunteer opportunities are listed under the OPPORTUNITIES tab of this website.

The policy addressing the requirements, and the Coroner’s position on viewing an autopsy for educational purposes, can be found under the OPPORTUNITIES tab of this website.

Are there any other educational opportunities available?
The Chief Coroner and her staff teach regularly and provide many educational presentations to community groups, students, and other professionals. Classes, presentations, and Office tours may be arranged. For more information please contact the Office or email Coronerquestions@adcogov.org.