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Usually when The Advocates work on a case, we are helping an injured person get better. We help them collect damages to pay for things like medical bills, lost wages, and property damage. The object of litigation is to make them “whole” again. We do our best.
The situation changes when someone is killed in an accident. There are medical bills and property damage to pay for, but we cannot make the injured person whole. There is no legal remedy that raises people from the dead. The only remedy we can ask for is monetary.
The action is called wrongful death claim, and it is brought by the estate of the deceased person.
Know that You May End Up in Probate Court Before You Get to a Wrongful Death Claim
If a person leaves a will, they will leave instructions about who they want to oversee their estate after they are dead. That person is called a personal representative or an executor.
In order to appoint a personal representative, you will need to meet with an estate-planning or probate attorney. He or she will help you fill out the right forms to apply to have the personal representative appointed by the court. The court will have a hearing. If any of the heirs object to the personal representative being appointed, they may make their case in front of a judge. That usually does not happen. Most personal representatives are appointed quickly.
If the deceased person left an irrevocable trust, you may be able to avoid probate court entirely. It’s always a good idea to consult a probate attorney when first reading an estate plan. Usually, the attorney who drafted the estate plan is more than willing to help you understand it.
The Personal Representative Needs to Contact the Personal Injury Attorney
Only the personal representative is allowed to act on behalf on the estate, so in theory only the personal representative should be pursuing a wrongful death claim on behalf of the estate. However, if you are not the personal representative, and you think the estate should start working on a personal injury claim, you not barred from broaching the topic with the personal representative or calling an advocated to ask questions. And if you think the personal representative is making bad decisions, you can always speak with an estate-planning attorney. Remember than an Advocate is available 24-7 at 801-326-0809.
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