Estate Enrichment from a Wrongful Death Actions

On the two-year anniversary of the Artist known as “Prince’s” in April of 2018, the representative of his Estate sued an Illinois Hospital and the Walgreens Corporation for compensatory remedies related to his overdose from opioid prescription drugs. Illinois laws of estate permit the representative of a decedent’s estate to pursue a survival action behalf of the victim and the surviving family members in matters where it is alleged there has been a wrongful death. Federal and state legislation protecting persons from wrongful death are part of the scope of estate laws of trust and fiduciary obligation guided by tort rules of negligence.

Wrongful Negligence, Estate Rights

Under federal law, rules of estates guiding state statutory provisions regarding “survivors” of wrongful death victims protect an estate and its beneficiaries with the same order of concern as the decedent. New York Consolidated Laws, Estates, Powers and Trusts Law N.Y. EPT § 4-1.1, provides the estate of the deceased person can file a claim on behalf of a spouse, or other heirs or beneficiaries [ . . .] qualifying for compensatory damages as result of the loss caused by “the wrongful act, neglect or default.” Therefore, from the standpoint of the estate, state rules affirm “no cause of action for injury to person or property is lost because of the death of the person in whose favor the cause of action existed” (EPT § 11-3.2 (b)).

If there are criminal actions pending against a defendant who is alleged to be the cause of an estate owner’s wrongful death, the estate executor or trustee with the assistance of a licensed attorney, other limitations will be imposed. In New York, estate plaintiffs have “at least one year from the date of the termination of the criminal case” to file a civil matter against that person, N.Y. EPT. Law § 5-4.1. N.Y. Estate Powers & Trusts Law § 5-4.4 . State statute of limitations for the filing of tortious wrongful death actions is generally calculated from the date of the injury.

Wrongful Death Claims by Estates

In The PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. Paul Dean RUNYAN, Defendant and Appellant. No. S187804  the California Supreme Court affirmed restitution of estates to be enforceable in circumstances where criminal wrongful death is proven. Determining plaintiffs have the right to collect restitution on behalf of an estates owner’s wrongful death, the court held that regardless if an estate is considered a “direct victim” of a crime or not, the executor, administrator or trustee is entitled to the collection of restitution for purposes of economic compensation related to losses sustained by the decedent as victim of a criminal act.

As illustrated in the pursuance of a wrongful death claim on behalf of a deceased estate owner, like the Artist known as “Prince,” where there accidental death or circumstance of foul play as result of negligence, whether it be an act of malpractice or product defect, is substantial legal reason to seek just enrichment in court. In some cases, both putative criminal charges, and tortious compensatory damages may be sought as remedy by an estate on behalf of family members and other beneficiaries. The loss of an estate owner can also create unforeseen expenses related to probate should the formation of an estate or its trust still be underway. Nevertheless, estates seeking compensation in a wrongful death claim, must evidence the defendant is responsible for the commission of the act causing the death of the victim at the time of the incident in question.

From Restitution to Contribution

Proceeds from a wrongful death suit filed by an estate is income that can be contributed to a nonprofit charitable giving recipient in exchange for tax-exemption. Ask your planned giving specialist about the philanthropic possibilities of an estate trust.

If an estate owner dies unwittingly without natural cause, a survival action alleging wrongful death may be filed for just compensation remedy on behalf of a decedent’s beneficiaries.

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