Do I need a Will if I Die As A Result Of Negligence?
If you are killed as a result of someone’s negligence, what happens to your will? The first thing you need to know is that if you die, and you have a will, an estate will be opened to administer your estate. This means that your Will is filed with the Court in the county where you lived and died. A person is appointed as an administrator. The administrator collects your assets, accounts for those assets, protects for those assets, pays your debts due after you die, pays all taxes due, and then distributes the assets to the persons you identified in your will.
If you die as a result of someone else’s negligence, such as in a car wreck with a drunk driver, a highway accident with a semi tractor trailer, a motorcycle accident, a construction accident, you are electrocuted, or burned or in any type of automobile accident, and you have a will, the process is the same as described in the first paragraph.
However, a second estate may be opened as well. This is called a wrongful death estate. It is not really an estate at all. Along time ago, if you died as a result of another person’s negligence, your there was no compensation (remember, compensation simply means “to make up for") for the harm caused to your family. This meant that if you died and you were the sole bread winner in your house, your spouse and children would be on their own. Most families fell into poverty and worse. Hoosiers saw a huge problem with this and passed the Indiana Wrongful death statutes. The legislature knew that a deceased person could not bring the claim in their own name (deceased people cannot legally do anything, for obvious reasons), so they had to come up with an entity which could bring the claim. They settled on what they called a "Wrongful Death Estate" or WDE. This works well, but it is a little confusing. It is confusing because the WDE does not change how the estate described in paragraph one works. The funds which are paid in compensation for the wrongful death do not become part of the regular estate. The wrongful death statutes describe how the funds generated by the WDE claim are distributed. Usually the funds are for the surviving spouse and dependent children, to make up for the loss these folks endure as a result of the wrongful death.
At Young and Young, we have more than fifty five years of experience helping families who have to deal with the tragedy of losing a loved one. We have read and used the Indiana Wrongful Death Statutes to help families survive the economic hardships caused by losing a loved one. Please call us today.