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Category: Estate Law
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In CA 4 the wrongful death% Does next of kin/family

Customer Question

In CA 4 the wrongful death% Does next of kin/family [email protected], even if its JUST SIBLINGS, no children, no spouse, TRUMP the decedents wishes if DIRECTED by WILL /approved by court? Our friend was hit by a car, on life support/unresponsive for days
then passed. My husband I & are his beneficiaries appointed by will & court administrators of estate. Drivers Insurance co settled OUT OF COURT pending court approval of release. Do siblings still stand as [email protected] if they dis owned him over 40 yrs
ago, wouldn't speak 2 him & in rare run ins were abusive towards him? if they never suffered relationship, personal or financial loses as a result of the death? Do they trump His wishes? My appointment by will?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Estate Law
Expert:  richanne96 replied 2 years ago.

Under California law, siblings do not have standing to bring a claim for wrongful death, only a spouse or children of the decedent or another dependent minor, stepchildren or parents. The decedent's personal representative can bring a claim but only on behalf of the people who have standing. So I am confused as to whom the driver's insurance company settled with. But whoever they settled the claim with is who will recover those funds. It is not a matter of trumping a will. The will states where his possessions/assets go after he dies. He can not will the settlement proceeds of a potential wrongful death lawsuit that happens after he is dead. It is sort of like life insurance - it goes to the named beneficiary, regardless what the will says about bequeathing other assets.

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
HMM so the insurance CO made the offer of settlement & release letter to my husband & I.
Also under these circumstances our friend was like an uncle, we did & were the ONLY ones that suffered relationship, personal & great financial loses as a result of his death that we have documented & can prove.
But the insurance co is actually unaware of any of these details.Our friend was hired by my husband to oversee his jobs, hire & do the purchasing for projects & ultimately made & saved my husband hundreds of thousands at what he did for him. He also continuously improved our house even when he didn't live with us.Would any of that circumstantially put us in standing to benefit from wrongful death?& if the insurance Co already sent a release letter to us in our names will it remain active?
Can they renege on it?
I know they would like us to abandon the approval settlement think they have started researching because they're saying now that the judge will award the wrongful death to the next of kin.
but remember the rep doesn't know the details of his relationship with us yet just knew we were the only ones in his will & approved by court as administrators
Expert:  richanne96 replied 2 years ago.

Again, the only ones with standing to sue for wrongful death are the spouse, children, and sometimes the parents and other dependents, such as minors and stepchildren. The insurance company must believe that as the administrators of the estate, you have standing to sue on behalf of the estate, when in reality, you do not. In any event, the siblings have no standing to sue. The insurance representative does not seem to know what he is doing. I would lock that settlement down as fast as possible.

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
If I bother to go through whatever motions to get the proceeds of this settlement & somehow get it deposited into the estate. Do we just automatically get it? or does the court then distribute it as they see fit? if so will we then be able to bring our unique position of standing to be considered even if thats never been done before?
Expert:  richanne96 replied 2 years ago.
If the will is going through probate, then the court will distribute the assets of the estate according to the terms of the will. That is true unless the will is challenged in court. The siblings could sue to have the will set aside on the basis that you coerced your friend or manipulated him or that he was not of sound mind when he made the will. In that case, you would have to fight to have the will upheld.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
There is no probate opened. He had nothing no assets other then things we gave him & a stake in his fathers trust that he was being kept in the dark about that he was trying to get find out what was supposed to be coming to him.
So what in the case no probate?
The sibling already contested the will then just conceded & thats over.
The will is upheld, but, as to him mentioning leaving his interest of his fathers trust he didn't word it exactly as his brother thinks he should have so he's contesting us getting his part of the fathers trust.
Expert:  richanne96 replied 2 years ago.
If you want to legally inherit anything from the deceased and/or act as executors of the will, you need to probate the will in court. If you do not know how, you need to retain a probate attorney to do that for/with you. When I said "contest" the will, I meant contest in court, not privately. Same thing with the brother and the trust. This whole thing needs to be filed in court and resolved in court. If you do not file, the brother could file an earlier will, and then you would be forced to contest that and answer for why you did not file the newer will first.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
We did fight the contest of will in court.
We were just told we did not open probate because there was nothing to probate.
if filing the to open the estate & filing the will within it, is considered opening probate then I guess it is, but we were told we did not open probate
We do have a CA attorney but she doesn't seem to know anything, doesn't communicate well or do much either.
The will is not being contested any longer & the brother just conceded it. We then got it approved & secured by the court & are now legally the administrators .
We are currently in litigation on a technicality concering & for the interest of the fathers trust. Which was the only thing he knew & felt he had to mention in the will.
The insurance settlement is a different issue.
May I ask you were you practice?