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Will a Wrongful Death Claim Impact an Estate Plan?

Posted on October 21st, 2017 by Oddo & Babat, P.C.

 

 

If a family member or loved one passes away and it is believed that the death was at the fault of another person, then it may be possible to file a wrongful death claim. A wrongful death claim is possible only if it is proven that the person’s death was a result of someone’s negligence or intentional actions. A claim allows for family members or loved ones of the decedent to claim damages. Filing a claim, however, can be a difficult process, because the laws pertaining to wrongful death may vary by state and the circumstances of the case. It may be beneficial to hire a wrongful death lawyer to file a claim on behalf of the family and loved ones.

 

Filing for Wrongful Death

There are specific laws dictating who can file a wrongful death claim after a person’s death. The laws and requirements vary by state, so it’s important to learn the eligibility in your state. Eligible members can usually include a spouse or life partner, children, parents, siblings and grandparents. You do not, however, have to be family to file a claim. In order to be able to file a wrongful death claim, it is usually required that the person:

  • was financially burdened by the person’s death, or
  • was financially dependent on the decedent.  

Typically, multiple family members and loved ones will want to file a wrongful death claim. In this case, it is wise to join them into one claim and have a wrongful death lawyer file the claim on behalf of everyone.

 

Damages

The point of a wrongful death claim is to allow family members and loved ones of the decedent to receive compensation for damages they incurred as a result of the death. These usually include:

  • Funeral expenses
  • Medical bills
  • Loss of wages, services, inheritance or other monetary contribution from the decedent that family members or loved ones relied on
  • Emotional damages

 

Compensation and the Decedent’s Estate

Regardless of whether the decedent has a Will, wrongful death money is disbursed as if there is no Will in place. The laws vary by state, but typically, the award is disbursed and expected to be divided among the beneficiaries according to the losses and damages. Because it is not itemized, this can add a lot of stress to the family when trying to distribute the money among the beneficiaries. When the family is unable to reach an agreement, the court will usually step in. It’s still important to have a sound estate plan in place. An experienced estate planning attorney can help accomplish this.

Grieving the loss of a loved one is already difficult enough. Don’t let the complexities and stress of a wrongful death claim make things harder on you. Wrongful death and estate planning lawyers such as the Estate Planning attorney Scottsdale AZ locals trust can help alleviate some of the stress by handling the legal aspects of the process.

 

Arizona Estate Planning AttorneyThanks to authors at Hildebrand Law for their insight into Estate and Personal Injury Law.

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