What You Need to Know About Post-Mortem DNA Paternity Testing
April 22, 2016
What is post-mortem DNA testing and how does it work?
Post-mortem DNA testing is done when one of the parties being tested is deceased. These tests are possible because the coroner keeps a blood spot sample on file. The blood spot sample can then be used in the DNA test to determine paternity. In some cases, the coroner may have other DNA samples on file, for example hair, tissue, or buccal samples.
How can I get a post-mortem DNA test?
If you think you will need a post-mortem DNA test at some point, it is important to schedule the test as soon after the deceased passes away as possible because most coroners only keep blood spot samples on file for one or two years. Once the blood spot sample is destroyed, it can make it very difficult or impossible to perform the DNA test. In some cases coroners will keep the blood spot sample on file for longer periods of time. For example, if the deceased was involved in a homicide, the blood spot sample will be kept on file in perpetuity in case of future needs for further investigation. For this reason, we recommend that even if the individual has been deceased for many years, it is still worth calling the coroner’s office to find out if there is still a blood spot sample on file.
What do I need for the test?
To perform a post-mortem DNA test, you will need to have the deceased’s legally designated next of kin sign a consent form to use the blood spot sample and authorize the coroner to release the sample to the DNA lab. All parties being tested must be present in person together at the same time on the day of testing. They must bring some form of government issued photo ID to the testing facility.
Can I use the results of the test in court?
This test is a legal test, which means there is a strict chain of custody and the results of the test can be used in the court of law or for any legal purposes.
How long does the test take to complete?
The DNA testing takes 5 business days to complete; however, this does not include the time it takes for the coroner to release the blood spot sample to the lab. So the overall time for testing varies depending on how fast the coroner processes the request.
What if the coroner doesn’t have a blood spot sample on file?
If there is no blood spot sample on file, there are other ways of determining paternity. If both parents of the deceased are available for testing, performing a dual grandparentage test offers the same accuracy and definitiveness as a paternity test. If both parents of the deceased are not available, one parent or a full sibling can be tested for a probability of relatedness test.
How accurate is the post-mortem DNA test?
The post-mortem test is just as accurate as a regular paternity test. You will receive accurate results definitively indicating whether or not the deceased is the father of the parties tested.