How May a Claim of Wrongful Death Change an Estate Plan?


You may wish to file a wrongful death claim if a loved one has passed due to negligent actions by a third party. The claim can only be possible if the death was caused by negligence or intentional acts of violence. A claim’s purpose is for family members to pursue damages from the death. However, this can be a difficult process because wrongful death statutes vary between states and particular details of the case at hand. It is usually best to hire a wrongful death attorney to help you through this difficult time.


Who Can File For Wrongful Death?


The law is very specific about who can file a claim of wrongful death, though the laws vary by state. Eligible people who can file are typically next of kin: first are surviving spouses, then children, then parents of the deceased and so on. You do not have to be a family member to file a claim, but you must:


  • have suffered financially because of the person’s death
  • Was a financial dependent of the deceased


Often multiple family members come together to file a claim of wrongful death and that is a good approach to take. You would rather take on a single lawsuit altogether rather than multiple separate ones for the same death.


What Damages Can You be Compensated for?


The best outcome of a wrongful death claim is for the family to receive compensation for the damages caused by their loved one’s death. There are multiple damages one can cite in a claim including:


  • Cost of the funeral
  • Medical Treatment Expenses
  • Monetary damages like lost wages, inheritance and other financial contributions of the dead to the surviving family members.
  • Psychological and emotional damages like pain and suffering


What Happens to the Estate?


Wrongful death awards are disbursed regardless of how the deceased’s will organizes asset distribution. Although laws vary between states, an award is usually distributed forst to the members of the family that experienced the most damages and then just filters down the line. This can be stressful for families because they are responsible for ensuring the distribution. If the family cannot agree, then the court must make the decisions themselves and they might not distribute the money the way some family members expect.


Hiring an estate planning lawyer can help you sort out these issues before you pass so that your family can avoid these difficult situations. Call a wills and trusts lawyer Scottsdale AZ depends on about your case and seek the justice you deserve for this tragedy.


Thanks to our friends and contributors from Arizona Estate Planning Attorneys for their insight into estate planning.