Warshafsky Rotter Tarnoff Bloch, S.C.

Wrongful Death Guide for Beneficiaries and Heirs

Know What to Do After Experiencing a Loss

After a loved one or close friend passes away, there are many situations requiring attention. Taking care of medical expenses or planning funeral services can cause a lot of tension during this emotional time. It is even worse when the cause of death is determined to be wrongful. Heirs and beneficiaries have several necessary steps to go through to bring closure to the loss of a loved one.

What to do as a beneficiary or heir in a wrongful death situation:

1. Determining a representative

Judge's gavelThe representative of the deceased’s estate is the only one capable of filing a wrongful death lawsuit or performing other legal actions in the name of the estate. This means the representative controls everything from the initial filing to settling and thus has a lot of power over the future of the estate. Normally, the representative would be selected by surviving family members or those closest to the deceased. Other times, a spouse, parent, or adult child of the deceased may act as representative on behalf of their loved one. In the event there are no close relatives, the legal heir or named beneficiaries are most likely to receive the representative title.

2. Appointment in probate court

Once a representative has been decided upon by the family or beneficiaries, said representative must be officially appointed by a probate court to ensure there is no one with a better claim as a representative of the estate or deceased. Probate courts specialize in will and inheritance laws. During this time, all efforts must be made to find the best representative for the deceased and estate, such as estranged spouses or children. If there are no objections, the legally appointed representative may then begin filing litigation.

At this time, a lawyer can also be selected to help represent the estate if there is trouble deciding on a specific individual. The right attorney can make sure you ave all the proper documentation and evidence to use in your lawsuit.

3. Filing a wrongful death suit

The appointed representative can now pursue a wrongful death suit against those responsible for the death of the decedent. It is important to file sooner rather than later if you believe the death of a loved one was wrongful as the state of Wisconsin requires claims to be made within three (3) years.

Car accidents, workplace negligence, and wrongdoing can all lead to wrongful death situations. Damages can often include medical and funeral expenses, potential future earnings of the deceased, and employment benefits (insurance or healthcare plans). Warshafsky Law Firm can help you determine whether or not your loved one’s passing would be categorized as a wrongful death or if your case is worth pursuing.

A “survivorship claim” can also be made to collect damages for the pain and suffering the deceased underwent before death. This amount can vary depending on the amount of time from injury to death and the extent of their physical discomfort in passing.

4. Avoid settling without proper consultation

Warshafsky Law Firm has seen many wrongful death lawsuits end in settlements. However, we also know many times this is an attempt by insurance companies or negligent parties to get out of a difficult situation for a low cost. We can give our professional opinion as to whether the settlement offered is acceptable or if continuing with the lawsuit is the better financial option for you. We believe in Society Changing Judgement, changing the way business operate to avoid future wrongful deaths, so even in the event of a settlement we do everything we can to ensure safer business practices.

5. Distribution of compensation

Time and money balanced by scalesThere are different types of damages in Wisconsin wrongful death lawsuits including:

  • Medical Bills – Recouping any expenses created by medical care received before the wrongful death occurred
  • Funeral Costs – Covering expenses from funeral and burial of the deceased

Depending on the exact wrongful death suit, there are many different ways to receive compensation after winning. Minor children of the deceased are first to receive damages to ensure their well-being to adulthood. Widows and widowers are next to receive benefits and compensation.

After compensation has been set aside for surviving family members and dependents, heirs and beneficiaries may receive part of the damages. How the remaining damages are distributed will depend on the appointed representative, the courts, and any will left by the decedent. The amount of compensation will depend on the outcome of the lawsuit.

What is the difference between an heir and a beneficiary?

Perhaps the most important thing to determine is who are the deceased’s heirs or beneficiaries. A beneficiary is someone named in a will or trust by the deceased. A valid will and testament will name all beneficiaries and create a clear legal path for inheritance after death. Beneficiaries can include family members, close friends, and charitable organizations.

An heir is the result of someone either not having a will at their time of death or having a will which has become invalid. Heirs are usually determined by the local laws of descent. Children, spouses, and immediate family members are most likely to be proclaimed heirs in these cases, followed by more distant relatives in their absence. Without a valid will, the legal situation around benefits for heirs can become complicated.

In the event of a wrongful death, both beneficiaries and heirs of the decedent may be eligible to file lawsuits on behalf of the deceased or their estate. However, who is eligible to receive compensation may vary. This is often dependent on individual state inheritance laws. Madison’s Warshafsky Law Firm can provide insight into beneficiary and heir compensation rights from wrongful death lawsuits in the state of Wisconsin.

Navigating Litigation

Warshafsky Law Firm can help heirs, beneficiaries, and surviving family members navigate the tricky world of wrongful death lawsuits. For example, there are many specific steps required for medical malpractice wrongful death lawsuits due to Wisconsin state laws. We will investigate all aspects of your loved one’s wrongful death to determine the full extent of liability on your behalf. If we discover multiple negligent parties involved in your loved one’s untimely passing, we will prosecute litigation against them to ensure full accountability.

We thoroughly explain how to filing a wrongful death lawsuit and the expected amount of monetary compensation you might receive. We will also give you our professional and honest opinion of the strength of your case. Our No Win, No Fee policy ensures you owe us nothing if we do not secure compensation for you. With Warshafsky Law, there is never any financial risk to you.

Contact Warshafsky wrongful death lawyers for a free consultation about your claim.

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