Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the term of office for the coroner?
The Coroner's Term of office is 4 years. The requirements for the Coroner other than being a resident in the county for 2 years, being 21 years of age and having a high school diploma or equivalent.
How many deaths does the Coroner's Office investigate per year?
The Coroner's office investigates an average of 700 deaths per year with about 100 going to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation for autopsies.
Can arrangements be made to view an autopsy?
Autopsies conducted by Muscogee County Coroner's office are not open to the public. Only those medical and law enforcement individuals having a primary interest may attend. Individuals may contact the GBI directly at 1-800-282-8746 to inquire about their policies and procedures in reference to autopsy review.
Is there a charge for an autopsy?
The GBI decides, with requests an information from the Coroner's Office, which cases will be accepted for autopsy according to Georgia Law. Most child deaths and Homicides, Suicides and Natural deaths that meet certain criteria will require autopsies. In the event that the GBI declines an autopsy request, the family of the deceases may request a private autopsy through our office with a licensed pathologist. The cost for a private autopsy can run between $2000 to $5000 depending on the extent of the exam and any additional testing.
Who performs an autopsy?
A medical doctor who has specialized in Pathology and approved by the Chief Medical Examiner of the state of Georgia.
Do you offer internships or need volunteers?
No. The nature of the work and our staffing levels preclude having either an internship program or volunteers.
Do you provide any sort of educational programs?
Our office is involved in the community on a daily basis; and believes that presentations with schools and community organizations is a great way to create relationships between ourselves and the people of Columbus. We can be contacted anytime to schedule a presentation which includes a slide show (censored and for viewers 18+), statistics and other vital information. Please contact us at 706-653-3260 with any questions or scheduling requests.
How long does it normally take for a death certificate to be signed and returned through the Coroner's Office?
A death certificate may take 1-2 weeks to be signed in an average case where the funeral home has been chosen and the Coroner will be signing. This time allows us to subpoena any necessary medical records and review them. In the event the deceased died in the hospital or the death certificate will be signed by their personal doctor it could be an additional 1-2 weeks. If the deceased died due to unusual circumstances that warranted an autopsy, a death certificate may take 3-6 months up to one year to be completed. In the event that does happen, a pending death certificate can be requested through the funeral home which will allow the next of kin to handle all necessary obligations of the deceased except life insurance. Those certificates would have to be purchased; and when a cause of death has been confirmed the certificate will be changed and the amended death certificates will also have to be purchased. The Health department will not trade old death certificates for new ones due to amendments unless there was an error on the original.
How do I request a copy of a death certificate?
A request for death certificates should be made at the Muscogee County Health Department, office of Vital Records located at 2100 Comer Ave. Columbus GA 31904. Their phone number is 706-321-6300; although requests can not be made over the phone. Any requests must be made in person or by filling out the attached form and faxing or mailing a copy back to the Health Department.
How much is a death certificate?
A certificate is $25 for the first copy and $5 for every copy after that. They must purchased at the same time to receive the discount on the additional certificates.
Can I receive a free death certificate if the deceased was buried as a pauper?
All certificates have to be purchased from the health department whether the deceased was a pauper/indigent or not. The health department has information on programs that will help those in financial need meeting certain criteria, obtain certificates at no charge. Please contact them at 706-321-6300 for additional information.
How do I apply for a pauper's Burial or Cremation?
It is a very easy process to apply for the program. First, the relative of the deceased must go to to the DFCS office in the Health Department at 2100 Comer Ave. Columbus GA 31904 to fill out all necessary paperwork. This must be done before 11 am Monday through Friday to prevent delays. The relative must then come to the Coroner's office at 510 Tenth Street Columbus GA 31901 to complete the remaining paperwork which would allow our office to complete all necessary funeral arrangements.
Are families allowed to be at the cemetery during a pauper's burial?
No one is allowed to view a pauper's burial due to the rules and regulations of East Porterdale Cemetery; but the families are allowed to have memorial services the next day at the location. Please contact the East Portedale Cemetery at 706-653-4579 to make arrangements.
What if their is no family to sign the paperwork for the pauper's program. Can the deceased still be cremated?
Our office and the state has to have a direct relative sign the request for cremation. In the event their is no relative the deceased can still have a pauper's burial but not a cremation. If the deceased had a will dictating their desire for cremation and/ or any other disposition paperwork the Coroner will review said forms on a case-by-case basis.
I live out of town and I can not go to the Health Department to fill out the forms for the pauper's program? What should I do?
Our office can be contacted at 706-653-3260 for all necessary paperwork for a pauper's burial request. All forms are in .pdf format and can be emailed to you or faxed. The forms should be filled out and returned to firstname.lastname@example.org or faxed to 706-653-3264 and the originals mailed back to our office for storage. An agent from our office will then forward all necessary forms to the health department for you.
If I purchase the ashes can they be shipped to me?
All cremains can be shipped in the continental U.S. at an additional charge. Any cremains shipped overseas will infer additional costs due to forms and certificates that have to be provided by the consulate of said country.
If I do not purchase the ashes, where do they go?
If cremains are not purchased from the city then they are stored at East Porterdale Cemetery, located at 320 Tenth Avenue Columbus, GA 31901. They are placed neatly in cremains slots and labeled with the name, date of birth and death of the deceased.
Is there a time limit for cremains to be purchased from the city?
Cremains can be purchased anytime from the city of Columbus; although we can not guarantee that the price will remain the same. The requester of the cremains must pay the current price of the cremains, not the price the ashes were when the deceased was first cremated.
What happens to bodies with no known next of kin?
Bodies with no known next of kin will only be held by the Coroner's Office for 72 hours and after that will be buried as a pauper at the Porterdale Cemetery