Coroner's FAQs

Why is the Coroner’s Office here?

The coroner has the responsibility to investigate all deaths that are considered unattended, this means when a person dies and has not been under a doctor’s care.

Other deaths that fall under the jurisdiction of the coroner are accidents, suspicious deaths and crimes that result in a death of a person.

The main duties of the Coroner’s Office are to determine the cause and manner of death, for public health and safety.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the coroner.

What happens now?

The scene investigator may take photographs, conduct interviews and will gather some vital information while at the scene. Your loved one will be transported to a local Funeral Home.

What should I do next?

Call family and friends. Take time to mourn and allow yourself to grieve.

Legal next of kin should begin looking for a funeral home, cremation service or consider donation. Our office cannot assist or offer recommendations for a funeral home, but we may be able to help by providing contact information for your chosen home or service.

Once arrangements are made please notify our office so that we may coordinate with them.

Please inform our office if there are any complications with the next of kin’s ability to choose a funeral home.

Who is the legal next of kin?

In Washington State next of kin is defined by law (RCW 68.50.160) lists Spouse, adult children, parents, siblings and court appointed guardians.

Common law marriage is not recognized by state law.

Is an autopsy necessary?

Not always. The Coroner will normally not perform an autopsy if the death is a “Natural Death”, the deceased has a physician who knows the medical cause of death and who has seen or treated the patient recently and the physician can provide an acceptable cause of death to the Coroner.

When does the autopsy take place?

Examination will occur as soon as it is possible to schedule a Pathologist. Someone from our office will remain in contact with you to keep you updated.

Can I refuse an autopsy?

Washington State does not recognize a right to refuse an autopsy ordered by the Coroner’s Office. Autopsies are done to answer medical and legal questions.

Our office recognizes your family or religious beliefs may conflict with performing an autopsy. We are open to discussion to accommodate your wishes, within the constraints of the investigation.

If there are any concerns or opposition, please call or notify us immediately.

How do I find out about organ and tissue donation?

In Washington State organ and tissue donation information is recorded by LifeCenter Northwest. They may be contacted at (877)275-5269 or you may find more information at their website,

When can I have a funeral?

Once you have selected a funeral home please let our office know. We are happy to discuss the process with you, but our office cannot/will not recommend a funeral home. Our office will coordinate release of the decedent with your permission to the funeral home of your choosing. Release of the deceased is done as soon as possible after an examination is completed.

How do I obtain records and how long will it take?

In some case it may take 5-6 months for toxicology tests to be completed and finalized autopsy report to be given to our office. Washington State law (RCW 68.50.105) has restricted the release of some information.

If you have any questions about obtaining records call or contact our office.

Is there a form to fill out for requesting records? Yes, a Kittitas County Request for Public Records request form is available at:

What about any Personal Effects?

If a person dies outside their residence, in the absence of family, any personal property on the decedent may be taken to the Kittitas County Coroner’s Office for safekeeping or turned over to law enforcement as evidence.

Personal affects taken by this office will only be turned over to the immediate legal next of kin. Release may be coordinated by calling or contacting our office during business hours Monday through Friday 8a.m until 5p.m.