The law on fatal accident inquiries in Scotland is to be reviewed for the first time in 30 years.
The lord advocate wants a law "fit for purpose"
It is hoped the review will help clarify the rights of the families of services personnel killed overseas.
Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has said he believes the FAI system is generally working well but that some concerns have been raised over delays.
He wants a "fundamental examination". About 60 FAIs are held in Scotland each year.
FAIs are held in the sheriff court following a sudden, accidental or unexplained death and are designed to address public concerns.
The probe will be led by retired senior judge Lord Cullen, who held public inquiries into the Piper Alpha oil platform explosion and the Dunblane school massacre.
It will consider whether FAIs should stay within the sheriff court structure and where they should fit in relation to others such as Health and Safety Executive inquiries.
Lord Advocate Elish Angiolini said: "This review will ensure the legislation is fit for purpose for the next 30 years."
The review will also look at the law dealing with sudden deaths.
Among the issues to be studied are legal representation for bereaved families, the use of expert evidence and whether there should be inquiries into all Scots deaths abroad.
The issue has come to public attention through British military deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan.
At present the Ministry of Defence repatriates the bodies of service personnel killed overseas to airfields in the south of England.
This means Scottish fatalities are dealt with by coroners' inquests. The number of casualties has led to a backlog of inquests.
The review of the system is expected to take about a year.