According to the National Institute on Aging, people who can legally pronounce a person dead include authority figures such as a hospice nurse or a doctor in a hospital or nursing facility. The pronouncement of the death should occur soon after the death occurs.
The National Institute on Aging states that the person who pronounces the death goes on to fill out the relevant forms, specifying the time and place of death and the cause of death. These forms make the preparation of an official death certificate possible. The person who pronounces the death may inquire as to whether or not the family of the deceased wants an autopsy done on the body. Autopsies help make the cause of death clear and can produce definitive diagnoses of illnesses or diseases.