The Coroner or his/her officer will gather information about the person who has died, and the circumstances of their death, in order to determine whether a doctor can issue a Medical Certificate or whether further investigations are required.
If a Medical Certificate cannot be issued the Coroner will usually order a post-mortem examination. However, if this examination subsequently reveals that the death was due to natural causes and that an inquest is not required, the Coroner will release the body. The death can then be registered and the funeral can take place.
Equally if the post-mortem examination does not immediately reveal the cause of death, but investigations are sufficient enough to determine that the cause of death was natural, then a Coroner has the option to continue with his/her investigations without necessarily opening an inquest.
The Coroner will eventually release the body and issue an authorisation for the funeral to take place. An Interim Certificate of the Fact of Death will also be issued to allow the Executor(s) or appropriate next of kin, to begin to administer the estate.
Provided the test results confirm a natural cause of death, the Coroner will close the investigation and the next of kin will be able to register the death in the normal way.
However, if the death is found not to be from natural causes the Coroner will then open an inquest.