What is the Manner of Death?

Our previous blogs have explored the ‘cause of death’ and the ‘mechanism of death’. Learn more about the other characteristic of death in this sweeping explainer.
What is the Manner of Death?

If you don’t live under a rock, you will likely be familiar with the concept of ‘cause of death’. However, if you’ve never heard of a manner of death, or the mechanism of death, don’t be too hard on yourself! Normally – and especially if you’re afraid of heights – we’d say, don’t look down. But, in this case, we’ve placed everything you need to know about the manner of death right down below. 

Three separate things are required to fill out a death certificate. Let’s delve into the difference between the three.

What is the manner of death?

The manner of death describes the circumstances of the death. This refers to the way in which the death came about, which may be:

  • Homicide
  • Suicide
  • Accidental
  • Natural
  • Undetermined
  • Pending

When someone dies, physicians, medical examiners and coroners (in the case of an autopsy) will note the manner of death. 

Why is the manner of death important?

There are numerous reasons why the manner of death must be recorded, but the main one is that all three characteristics are needed for the death certificate.

Another is so family members and friends know how their loved one died, which can bring them solace, peace of mind and/or closure. There are other instances where a manner of death may be useful information to have, such as in criminal investigations or life insurance claims.

Cause of death, mechanism of death and the manner of death. What’s the difference? 

As we have noted, the manner of death describes how a death has occurred. On the other hand, the cause of death is more of a broader category – it may list events like a ‘car accident’. Finally, the mechanism of death refers to the physiological change that resulted in the death (for example, if the cause of death is due to a gunshot, the mechanism of death may be loss of blood). 

Manner of death: Explained

To help you get a better understanding, here are a few examples:

Natural death

Natural death is the most common manner of death. It is caused by the interruption and failure of body functions resulting from age or disease.

Accidental death

This is caused by unplanned events, such as a car accident.

Undetermined death

These are deaths where, after a thorough investigation and consideration of all the information, one manner of death is no more compelling than another.

Pending death

‘Pending’ may be temporarily listed on the death certificate for both cause and/or manner of death. This happens when the coroner is waiting for an investigation, and/or information or test results are needed for certification. This is typically amended when the aforementioned information becomes available. 

Wrap up

It can be tricky to get your head around the three classifications. In summary, all three are equally important parts of the death process, and it can be helpful to have an understanding of each to ensure that a death certificate is accurate (or to learn more from a historical death certificate, if you ever get your hands on one).

We know, we know – we talk about death a lot! But, here at Willed, we’re not about skirting away from the topic. That’s why we’re helping so many Australians feel more comfortable about Wills, Estate Planning, Probate and more. Bite the bullet and start or update your legal Will, or contact our super-friendly team today.

Disclaimer: The content of this blog is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. This blog should not be relied upon as legal, financial, accounting or tax advice.

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