The First Steps to Take When Losing a Loved One to Wrongful Death

Crying against a wall

Losing a loved one is one of life’s biggest challenges. If the loss of your loved one was sudden and due to the negligent or wrongful behavior of another, the shock and confusion are compounded. You may be feeling like you don’t know what to do next, or even who to trust. As difficult as it is dealing with a wrongful death, it is important to be calm and organized. This is one of those situations where getting help as soon as possible is important. Consider contacting our office for guidance. We will walk you through the process step by step. If your family member’s death was caused by negligence or recklessness, be aware that you could be entitled to receive compensation for your losses.

Where do I go from here?

When a loved one dies, you are required to make a lot of decisions and take action in various ways. There may be funeral arrangements to make, financial records to decipher, and bills to pay. You will need to contact your loved one’s employer, social security, and life insurance provider for instance. It seems overwhelming and can be if you are not adequately prepared. What lies ahead will be unique to your particular circumstances as well as what state you are in, so it is important to speak to legal counsel for guidance.

Notify everyone

As soon as possible, notify any affected party of your loved one’s passing. This can include their employer, social security, the bank, and their insurance company for example. They may request specific information at that time such as your loved one’s birth date and social security number. They may also ask for a copy of the death certificate.

Obtain a death certificate

You will need multiple copies of the death certificate. This usually can be requested from the mortuary involved or can be requested from the local health department in the state or county where your loved one died, where the wrongful death occurred.

Locate important documentation

You will need to gather documentation regarding your loved one. This includes things like their will and other estate planning documents, life insurance policies, bank account information, and marriage certificates for example.

Temporary administration of the estate

In order to conduct business on behalf of your loved one, it is important to know that you can request to be a temporary administrator of the estate. This will enable you to obtain court authorization to handle emergency matters on behalf of the estate. These proceedings involve filing an application, which when approved will allow you to act as the administrator of the estate quickly.

It is important to note that the powers that are granted on a temporary basis are limited to matters that need to be dealt with immediately. Generally, it will be necessary for the temporary administrator to post a bond, however, the rules vary by state.

Permanent administration of the estate

To be the permanent administrator you will need to be appointed in order to act on behalf of the estate. This process will be similar to whether or not your loved one had a will.

If your loved one didn’t have a will, the court will appoint you or another party to handle the deceased’s affairs. That person will usually have an attorney represent them. The appointed administrator will need to post a bond in order to receive letters of administration and to be able to act as the administrator.

If there is a will, the executor named in the will must still file an application with the probate court. The process will be similar but should be smoother and quicker.

Once you have been appointed as the administrator or executor of the estate, you will be able to conduct business on behalf of your loved one. This can include things like paying bills and taxes, closing accounts, distributing assets to heirs, and more.

Our wrongful death lawyers are here to help

If you have lost a loved one due to negligence, you are likely grieving and overwhelmed. We are here to guide you step by step through the process. If you believe that you have a wrongful death lawsuit, please come speak with us. We can help you decide if pursuing a claim is in your best interests. Call us today at 913-839-2808.