An inquest is when a court of law or a coroner investigates the circumstances of a person's death. If a person in your family dies suddenly, you might attend an inquest at the courthouse.
A death doesn't always require an inquest — they are typically carried out when there is something unexplained or suspicious about the way someone died. The inquest might be a step before a murder investigation, for example. Like a trial, a court inquest typically has a verdict issued by a judge, which might be "natural death" or "accidental death." The Old French root word is enqueste, or "inquiry."