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Information for Families

To report a death call the 24/7 Hotline 845-431-9177

Families who lose a loved one unexpectedly often have questions regarding the deceased, including about the role the Medical Examiner’s Office plays in the investigating the death.

Below you’ll find common questions family members have, as well as succinct answers.


If you need to identify the body of a family member, contact our office at 845-486-3414 to schedule an appointment.  The Medical Examiner’s Office is open Monday – Friday, from 9am - 4pm.   After-hours or weekends, call the Medical Examiner’s Hotline at 845-431-9177.

The Medical Examiner decides the need for autopsy to determine cause and manner of death. Requests for an autopsy, when the medical examiner has declined authority, are considered on a case by case basis.

Please note:

  • Family permission is not required to perform an autopsy.
  • There is no cost to the family.

Autopsies are required when death is due to:

  • Criminal violence
  • Criminal neglect or an unlawful act
  • When a death occurs unattended by a physician
  • When a death occurs under suspicious circumstances
  • When there is a public health concern

If you have an objection to an autopsy being performed due to religious or personal reasons, please contact the Medical Examiner.

The Medical Examiner’s Office does not provide Death Certificates.  Your funeral director will file the death certificate with the clerk or registrar of the jurisdiction where the death occurred.  Certified copies of the death certificate are given to the legal next of kin by the funeral director.  The time of death recorded on the death certificate is the time the deceased was pronounced dead and may not be the actual time of death.  Additional copies may be obtained by the funeral director or the municipality in which the death occurred.

In some cases, additional tests may be necessary to establish the cause of death.  In these cases:

  • A “pending” death certificate will be issued.  The “pending” death certificate allows the funeral home to claim the remains according to the wishes of the legal next of kin.
  • A “pending” death certificate may not satisfy the requirements of insurance companies.
  • A “corrected death certificate” is filed with the town, village, or city clerk/registrar where the death occurred once studies are completed.
  • The legal next of kin can obtain copies of the corrected death certificate directly from the funeral director or the town/village/city clerk/registrar in which the death occurred.

The Medical Examiner’s Office contacts the legal next of kin after an autopsy report is issued which typically takes 4-6 weeks to finalize.

  • The Medical Examiner will explain how to get a copy of the finalized report at no cost.
  • There is a fee for records requested by attorneys and insurance agencies on behalf of the legal next of kin.
  • Autopsy reports are not sent to physicians.