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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Personal Injury Law
Satisfied Customers: 111681
Experience:  Licensed Attorney. Over 20 years experience in personal injury and law enforcement.
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I am filing a pro se writ of summons on behalf of a dead family

Customer Question

I am filing a pro se writ of summons on behalf of a dead family member for whom I am the administrator of the estate. Let's say her name was Kate Smith, and my name is*****
Do I call the case "Smith vs [evil defendant]" or do I call the case Doe vs [evil defendant?]
Submitted: 7 months ago.
Category: Personal Injury Law
Customer: replied 7 months ago.
Ok, it seems like I should be saying, "Jane Doe, administratrix of the estate of Kate Smith" or maybe "Jane Doe, individually and as administratrix of the estate of Kate Smith." Is there any difference between the two wordings, is one more correct than the other or is one correct and the other incorrect?
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 7 months ago.
Dear Customer,The case name is "Estate of Kate Smith v [evil defendant]"Unfortunately, you cannot file this claim "pro per" you need an attorney to represent the estate in litigation (a representative of the estate, or administrator, cannot represent the estate in litigation).Failure to retain an attorney can cause the estate's claim to be dismissed.You can find local civil litigation attorneys using the State and local Bar Association directories, or private directories such as www.AVVO.com; www.FindLaw.com; or www.Martindale.com (I personally find www.AVVO.com to be the most user friendly).
Customer: replied 7 months ago.
Wait - I've had like 5 lawyers tell me I could file a Writ of Summons to start a malpractice claim against my deceased mom's doctor - and you're saying I can't?
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 7 months ago.
If you have actually had a local attorney provide you with a formal written opinion regarding this, I would defer to them.But short of that, representatives of an estate do not represent the estate in litigation, they are the representative of the estate - meaning they are the person responsible for reporting to the court, accounting to beneficiaries, etc., but they are not licensed attorneys permitted to represent another entity (the estate is another entity) before the court.Also, if you are planning on filing a medical malpractice case, you will want a medical malpractice attorney in any event - these are complex lawsuits, and pursuing them "pro per" (even for your own claims) is often a good way to lose a valid claim simply because you get buried by procedure.
Customer: replied 7 months ago.
Look,
I didn't pay money here to have you tell me to secure an attorney. I *know* that I need to secure an attorney and will do so at the appropriate time in this case - for reasons I am not at liberty to divulge online, that is not yet possible. But telling me to "get an attorney" hardly is a valid answer to my question.
In answer to YOUR response, I am the sole beneficiary of my mom's estate and I've been told I am the ONLY person right now who can toll the statute for a bunch of convoluted reasons. So it falls to me to fill out this crazy form the best I am able, and I am quite aware that I cannot practice law. I just need to get through the dumb writ and keep this case alive long enough for an attorney to be hired.
Thanks for giving me wrong information, taking up my time, and making this every more difficult.
Customer: replied 7 months ago.
If you would be so kind, please release this question for another expert to reply.
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 7 months ago.
Dear Customer,I am going to "opt out" and allow another expert to follow up with you.Please do not post any further at this time as it will delay the next expert's ability to follow up.If you need any assistance in the meantime, please contact our customer service at: http://ww2.justanswer.com/helpThank you for using our forum, and I do wish you the best of luck.Bill
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 7 months ago.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.
I am a DIFFERENT CONTRIBUTOR. I must concur that under PA law, a person who is not licensed to practice law may not represent any party in a legal action other than themselves. Here as administrator of the estate you are seeking to represent the estate, which is a separate party that can sue and be sued, so in you trying to represent the estate you are indeed committing unauthorized practice of law as the other expert stated (but that was not your question and all I wanted to do is clarify that the previous expert was correct on that point and whoever told you that you could file suit on behalf of the estate is not really correct).
HOWEVER, all of that aside, to answer your actual question, in your case caption, the correct title is "Estate of Kate Smith v. Evil Defendant" as you are not representing Kate Smith actually, you are representing the estate that she left behind which has inherited all of her rights of action.
Customer: replied 7 months ago.
This is just mind boggling to me as so many attorneys have told me I can do this. I wish there was a way to follow up with you all in a few weeks and tell you if it worked or not. Filed it today.
Customer: replied 7 months ago.
I'm not in Alabama, but here is an example of this situation there:
http://caselaw.findlaw.com/al-supreme-court/1284300.html
Customer: replied 7 months ago.
ah, guess that turned out the way you said it would. :)
Customer: replied 7 months ago.
I mean - as I'm reading things from different states, from state to state there are stipulations for who can and can't sue on behalf of an estate pro-se. An administrator can or can't, depending on whether or not he/she is the sole beneficiary, whether there are outstanding debts against the estate, whether or not the estate was properly opened or not, so on and so forth. Are you saying in PA there is NO circumstance at all in which an administrator of an estate can file a pro-se writ of summons on behalf of the estate?
If this is true - did filing this buy me any extra time to get a lawyer involved?
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 7 months ago.
Thank you for your reply.
State to state and states other than your state are not relevant. Filing your writ of summons usually will get you some extra time to find an attorney, yes as courts seem to give parties 30-60 days to get an attorney in these cases. Here is a PA case that tells you pretty clearly, the administrator of the estate cannot represent the estate, it is the unauthorized practice of law. See: http://www.pacourts.us/assets/opinions/Commonwealth/out/444CD13_12-23-13.pdf
I do not know what attorneys told you differently, but the case at the above link and many other PA cases say quite clearly, the administrator of the estate cannot represent the estate in a legal action.