In a wrongful death, is the wife entitled to any claims or assets? 29 Answers as of April 04, 2013

My dad recently was killed in a car accident. He was a passenger in the vehicle and the driver was charged with DUI and Vehicular Manslaughter. He was married for 32 yrs however, was separated from his wife for over 20 yrs. My dad created a new life and the wife did as well. After the accident the wife didn’t want any parts of it but shortly afterwards changed her mind. Is she entitled to any claims or assets?

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Durham Jones & Pinegar | Erven Nelson
She probably does not have a good claim. You, however, might have a good claim.
Answer Applies to: Nevada
Replied: 4/4/2013
Merdes & Merdes, P.C.
Merdes & Merdes, P.C. | Ward Merdes
Probably yes. It depends on your dad's Last Will and whether your mom was a "dependent" when your dad died.
Answer Applies to: Alaska
Replied: 3/21/2013
Law Office of Ronald Arthur Lowry
Law Office of Ronald Arthur Lowry | Ronald Arthur Lowry
Yes, if she was married to him at the time of his death. Division of the proceeds of a recovery in tort for wrongful death is covered by Georgia statutory law, however it can become complicated at times. This sounds like it might be one of those times. I need to know more information to give any kind of more detailed answer to your question.
Answer Applies to: Georgia
Replied: 3/21/2013
Kelaher Law Offices, P.A.
Kelaher Law Offices, P.A. | James P Kelaher
If they had not been divorced, legally, yes, but practically, no. A jury would not give her anything if they had been separated for that long. If you settled the case and then changed her mind, you have a good argument that you settled the case "cheaply" because she did not assert a claim, so tell her to pound sand.
Answer Applies to: Florida
Replied: 3/21/2013
Law Offices of Ronald A. Steinberg & Associates | Ronald A. Steinberg, BA, MA, JD
She would have to prove in court that she suffered a loss due to the death of her estranged husband. It sounds as if she is entitled to about $100.00. Get a lawyer to deal with it.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 3/21/2013
    Adler Law Group, LLC
    Adler Law Group, LLC | Lawrence Adler
    Yes. The wife whether thru a will or common law is entitled to bring a wrongful death claim. The Driver will likely have insurance and his personal assets are also likely at risk.
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 3/21/2013
    Gregory M Janks, PC
    Gregory M Janks, PC | Gregory M Janks
    Generally any assets of a decedent's estate will pass down to heirs per the decedent's will (or trust). If the wife was given assets per those documents, then the answer is "yes". If not, no. If there was no will (trust) then the statute on inheritances will apply and it spells out who takes. You need to read any estate plan documents, or if none, the descent and distribution statute. If there are still questions, consult with either a Probate lawyer and/or a PI lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 3/21/2013
    Law Office of Christian Menard
    Law Office of Christian Menard | Christian Menard
    Under California law, the heirs of a decedent are entitled to file a claim for the wrongful death. However, each heir, as damages, is entitled to receive from the settlement funds only that amount which that heir could have expected to receive from the decedent had the decedent had a normal life expectancy. Since the "wife" is still legally married to your dad, she is considered an heir. But, since she could not gave expected to receive any money from him, she should not get anything.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/21/2013
    Barry Rabovsky & Associates
    Barry Rabovsky & Associates | Barry Rabovsky
    We would be happy to provide you with a free consultation if you call my office at either of the numbers listed below. If my office accepts your case, there is no fee charged unless we are able to obtain a settlement for you.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 3/21/2013
    Paul Whitfield and Associates P.A.
    Paul Whitfield and Associates P.A. | Paul L. Whitfield
    The key is not emotion and feeling etc but were they legally married
    Answer Applies to: North Carolina
    Replied: 3/21/2013
    Curry, Roby & Mulvey Co., LLC
    Curry, Roby & Mulvey Co., LLC | Bruce A. Curry
    Potentially. You must remember that a probate judge must approve how the proceeds from any wrongful death settlement or judgment is distributed. The judge will listen to the argument of the involved parties and then make a decision. However, given these facts, I surmise the judge won't make any allocation to your dad's wife, or if he does, it will be minimal.
    Answer Applies to: Ohio
    Replied: 3/21/2013
    Lydy & Moan | C. Gary Wilson
    She would have some claim, but difficult to apportion her share.
    Answer Applies to: Ohio
    Replied: 3/21/2013
    The Law Firm of Stephen M. Reck, LLC
    The Law Firm of Stephen M. Reck, LLC | Scott D. Camassar
    Depends on the probate laws of your state. Usually a spouse cannot be disinherited.
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 3/21/2013
    Joel H. Schwartz, P.C.
    Joel H. Schwartz, P.C. | Steven A. Schwartz
    Based on the circumstances you described (not being together for 20 years), I don't see any loss of consortium claim on the wife's part.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 3/21/2013
    Attorney at Law | Ernest Krause
    Kind of doubtful but it is complicated enough an attorney needs to look at your dad's assets, including insurance policies. You may well have a case against the DUI driver. Don't miss deadlines or let evidence disappear. Talk with several personal injury attorneys.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/21/2013
    David F. Stoddard
    David F. Stoddard | David F. Stoddard
    Probably. As the wife, if he has no will, she is entitled to a half of his estate. If he had a will, she is entitled to 1/3 of the estate. This includes any wrongful death claim.
    Answer Applies to: South Carolina
    Replied: 3/21/2013
    Mike Lewis Attorneys | Mike Lewis
    If there was never a formal separation agreement, she may well have a valid claim to a portion of the estate. You should consult with an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: North Carolina
    Replied: 3/21/2013
    Law Offices of Mark West
    Law Offices of Mark West | Mark West
    If they were not divorced, under California law she does have a claim under the wrongful death statute. Adult children would take after the wife but you may be able to challenge the relationship status and prove who was closer and deserves more of an award.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/21/2013
    Zeliff & Watson
    Zeliff & Watson | Evan Watson
    Not likely- not 20 years later. If your father was remarried, or next of kin, would have rights under a wrongful death claim.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 3/21/2013
    Law Office of Michael H. Joseph PLLC | Michael Joseph
    It depends on the will. But you should file for letters of administration immediately.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 3/21/2013
    workerscomp.tv
    workerscomp.tv | Terrence A. Valko
    A spouse is entitled to an intestate share of a decedent (like your late Father)'s estate if he died without a will. If he had a will and wrote her out then things should be okay. You may be looking at a wrongful death/survival action and an estate law fight. Seek counsel.
    Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
    Replied: 3/21/2013
    Jules D'Alessandro | Jules D'Alessandro
    If your father never divorced her and was therefore still legally married she is entitled to take up to 50% of the estate if there was no will.
    Answer Applies to: Rhode Island
    Replied: 3/21/2013
    John Russo | John Russo
    If they were not legally separated, i.e. per a court order, then they are legally married, and she is entitled to everything your father had, or has coming to him. And if names were changed as beneficiaries or there was a will cutting her out she stands in the strongest position to challenge everything. Spouses stand first in probate.
    Answer Applies to: Rhode Island
    Replied: 3/21/2013
    The Gardner Law Firm, PLC | Brandon Gardner
    Without a will, his estate will be distributed under Michigan's Estates and Protected Individuals Code. A spouse's share of the estate is governed by MCL 700.2102, which you can find by doing a Google search. If there is a will, then distribution will be governed by the will.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 3/21/2013
    Matthew D Kaplan LLC
    Matthew D Kaplan LLC | Matthew D Kaplan
    She has a claim and can file suit in probate. It does not mean she will win, but she certainly would be considered a beneficiary as the spouse. My advice is to retain a wrongful death attorney that will bring in a separate probate lawyer to help with this case.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 3/21/2013
    Law Offices of Tanya Gendelman, P.C.
    Law Offices of Tanya Gendelman, P.C. | Tanya Gendelman, Esq.
    Yes, the wife may be entitled to the car accident claim, as well as the assets from the estate.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 3/21/2013
    Stephens Gourley & Bywater | David A. Stephens
    Probably yes.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 3/21/2013
    Danville Law Group | Scott Jordan
    She would only be entitled to the assets considered community property. Each asset would need to be reviewed to determine when it was purchased, before or after date of separation. The likelihood is that as long as an actual date of separation can be established, she is not entitled to much.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/21/2013
    Reade & Associates
    Reade & Associates | R. Christopher Reade
    Your question has a couple of parts. As to the personal injury/wrongful death case, there are 2 sets of claims: (1) the claims of the decedent as brought by the Estate (of which the wife may be a personal representative) and (2) individual claims for loss of companionship/consortium for her loss. The second issue appear to implicate whether the wife is entitled to any portion of your father's assets, which is a question of probate/intestacy law-meaning whether your father had a Will and how many beneficiaries might be able to claim in the absence of a Will.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 3/21/2013
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