Widow slams three-month delay over husband’s death certificate
A bereaved widow hit out yesterday after she was told a backlog at the coroner’s office was to blame for a months-long wait for a document needed to settle her husband’s estate.
The 62-year-old Devonshire woman said the three month delay in issuing her husband’s death certificate was “unconscionable”.
The woman, who asked not to be named, added she had been told, after repeated calls since her husband’s death, that the document awaited a signature from the corner’s office.
She said: “Now I know that they have it. But I still don’t know when I can get it.”
The woman added: “My husband had two private pensions with two insurance companies.
“There are shares that I need to transfer into my name. I can’t probate his will. I can’t do anything until I have that certificate.”
The woman said she got confirmation from the pathology department at the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital yesterday that the death certificate was with the coroner’s office after her queries were bounced among different offices.
She added: “I know now that mine is going to happen. What I worry about is all the people who are not as bull-headed as I am.”
She said she had been told in her calls to the coroner’s office that others had waited several months for death certificates.
The widow said her husband died on July 27 after he complained of chest pain.
The cause of death was found to be a rupture of the main blood vessel to the heart.
The woman said she was at first told at the hospital that an autopsy on her husband would not be needed.
She added she only learnt that an autopsy was performed later when the funeral home had not received his body.
The woman said: “It was a shock to me to to find out, but that’s protocol because he died at home and had not been to see his doctor.
“They needed an autopsy to determine the cause of death and they needed a coroner’s report.”
She added that the police liaison officer for the coroner’s office had been “nothing but helpful, very compassionate – he’s done everything he can”.
The woman said: “It’s just an issue somewhere in the coroner’s office. The report was done. The cause of death was done. It goes to the clerk.
“What more do you need? Just do it up and send it to the Registry General’s. How can it not be signed after nearly three months?”
She added: “I have my own home, but most people out there are paying rent or have mortgages.
“They might have to borrow money because they can’t access a bank account or a pension.
“What if they were relying on their spouse and they can’t access anything because of a piece of paper?”
The Royal Gazette was unable to contact the coroner’s office or the police coroner’s officer yesterday.
Juan Wolffe, the senior magistrate, whose responsibilities include management of the coroner’s office, did not respond to a request for comment.