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Information for families

Please accept our condolences for your loss. We want to ensure that families go through a smooth process during this time. We have provided a guide to help families through the examination, funeral, and burial processes.

What you need to know

  • Not every case that comes into our office will require an autopsy.

  • Families should make funeral arrangements as soon as they find out their case has been sent to our office.

    • It usually is not necessary for families to come to our office to identify the deceased. Identification in most cases takes place at the funeral home. If you are needed to come to our office to identify the deceased, a medical legal investigator will contact you

  • If you cannot afford funeral arrangements:

    • A funeral director may be able to help you request a burial application and financial assistance.

Additional testing

The medical examiner may need to perform additional testing as part of the examination. These tests will not delay the deceased's return to family members.

Children 3 years old and younger

Our office will need to perform additional testing for the deaths of children 3 years old or younger. For these cases:

  • We will retain the brain and spinal cord for a neuropathologist to examine. You may request they be returned to you.

  • We will freeze several samples for any future studies the family or medical examiner may request.

  • Our examiner will check for certain genetic disorders.

It usually takes longer to determine the cause of death for children.

For more information, you can contact a family liaison at (857) 377-2204.

Our office is part of a collaborative program with Boston Children’s Hospital called the Robert's Program. This program involves conducting additional testing for children under 3 years old. Testing is done by physicians in several different special medical studies. The program is voluntary and a child will not be enrolled without consent from the child’s family. You can email or call the program at (617) 919-4513 if you are interested. 


  • Our only fee is a cremation authorization fee. We charge this through the funeral director.