While wrongful death cases and probate processes may become intertwined, it is important to know the difference between the two individually.
Wrongful Death Case Overview
- Wrongful death claims are usually filed by surviving family members.
- A case is usually filed because the death was caused by negligence.
In a wrongful death case, a lawyer speaks on behalf of the deceased’s surviving family and seeks to prove that the death was caused by the negligence of a third party.
Probate Case Overview
Probate laws apply when anyone dies and it concerns the distribution of assets. If you do not leave a will, your assets are subject to probate and “intestacy statutes” which will decide on your asset distribution for any surviving family members.
- With or without a will, probate applies to anybody when they die.
- Even if the death occurred naturally, the estate will be subject to the probate process.
Which Lawyer Should I Hire?
You will need to hire a wrongful death lawyer if you believe that the death of your loved one was caused by a third party’s negligence. In a case of wrongful death, you will need both a probate and wrongful death lawyer since all estates are subject to the probate process. A probate lawyer is not involved in the wrongful death case to pursue damages for the surviving family. That is the job of the wrongful death lawyer, the probate process serves an entirely different function.
Should Survivors Share a Lawyer?
All the survivors should have one lawyer filing one case as long as they agree beforehand on how to divide an award if they win one. The probate lawyer will want to know what the survivors expect and how they will want to divide the rest of the estate in case there is no will. It is important that an agreement is reached before beginning the process because infighting between family members can lead to a long, costly legal battle for assets.
Next Steps to Prepare
Whether you are facing a claim of wrongful death or simply dealing with the probate process, it is best to have a probate lawyer Melbourne, FL trusts by your side to guide you through these confusing legal processes. Remember, that all survivors should try to agree beforehand on distribution and should file the claim together under one suit. Call for a free consultation today on your case.
Thank you to our friends and contributors at Arcadier & Associates for their insight into probate.