Who gets settlement money?

by Leah
(New York)

Here's the situation in a nutshell: Sister was administrator of mother's estate. Sister filed a malpractice lawsuit with brother and herself as beneficiaries. Brother died before the settlement, leaving a spouse and no children. Brother resides in another state from sister and the state of the lawsuit. Brother left no will.

Is the spouse of the deceased brother entitled to any money from the settlement? What are the laws concerning the proceeds from a malpractice settlement in a situation like this? Thank you for any information you can provide.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Who gets settlement money?":

Leah (New York):

It is our policy here at InjuryClaimCoach.com not to interfere with the attorney-client relationship. To do so would be inappropriate. If you are presently represented by an attorney, your interests would be best served by heeding your attorney's advice and counsel.

For purposes of this answer we will presume the case was filed as a wrongful death lawsuit based on medical malpractice. With that said, your sister cannot name herself and her brother as "beneficiaries" of the lawsuit.

Additionally, the State of New York does not permit a family member to file a wrongful death lawsuit unless the family member is also the court appointed personal representative of the deceased person's estate.

The wrongful death lawsuit filed may seek damages for losses suffered by the mother's heirs, devisees, or beneficiaries under the mother's will. If the lawsuit is successful and compensation is awarded by the court, the personal representative will act as a trustee for the surviving family members to whom the proceeds belong.

To answer your question about the spouse of the deceased brother, the answer is Yes. With the exception of the State of Louisiana, in all other states the surviving spouse may be considered an heir, and thus entitled to proceeds which might have been awarded to the late husband.

For more information about New York State Probate Laws go here.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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