Portland Personal Injury Lawyer
Law Offices of Timothy Grabe Helping the Injured Get Compensation

Understanding an Estate During a Wrongful Death Claim

When a loved one passes away due to the negligence or intentional criminal acts of another person, a wrongful death claim may be created by a representative of their estate. For many people, their understanding of that concept ends there. Who exactly is a representative of their estate?

In most cases, the estate representative will have been named in an existing will or trust, perhaps as an executor. If the decedent passed away without creating an estate plan – or without naming anyone directly as a representative – the duty may shift to the closest next of kin or family member.

Family members who may assume the responsibility and file a lawsuit in Oregon include:

  • Spouse
  • Child
  • Parent
  • Grandparents
  • Stepchildren
  • Stepparents

Just about any relative might have the ability to create a wrongful death lawsuit and act as a representative of the estate. The more closely related the individual, the more likely the case is to find success, however. If your loved one has passed away due to someone else's actions, you should consider communicating with other members of your family to determine who should be the one to reach out to a wrongful death attorney.

What Happens to the Decedent's Estate?

If a will or trust was already created, you should speak to a professional estate planning lawyer to discover how it should be followed. Keep in mind that if there is a wrongful death lawsuit pending, any damages recovered from the claim may be considered part of the estate and require divvying amongst inheritors.

Financial damages for a wrongful death claim could include:

  • Funeral and burial costs
  • Medical or hospital expenses relating to the fatal ailment
  • Wages lost that should have been earned in their lifetime
  • Nominal damages for emotional trauma

If there is no estate plan in place, things can get more complicated. The assets will be considered intestate, and the law will determine who gets what and why. In most cases, inheritance priority will be granted to a spouse, then children, then parents, then siblings, in that order. This means spouses will be the most likely to inherit everything and siblings are the least likely. It all depends on the specifics of your loved one's estate, though.

To make sense of the estate of a loved one who suffered a wrongful death – or to actually file a wrongful death claim against responsible parties – let me, Portland wrongful death attorney Timothy Grabe, help you. I understand that you will be feeling a great deal of distress after losing someone close to you, so I always do everything I can to make certain things go smoothly and that you are treated fairly. I want you to be comfortable during this trying time, and I want you to know that I am here for the legal support you need.

Call (503) 825-2115​ or fill out a free online case evaluation form today for more information.