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I had POA over my aunt's care. My aunt passed away last week due to sepsis caused by a wound she received in a nursing home.

Canton, MS |

My 90 year old aunt passed away due to sepsis caused by an untreated wound she received in a nursing home. My siblings got wind of the fact that I am planning to file suit against the nursing home and are saying that If I do, they are entitled to any money that may be recovered. My siblings never went to see my aunt, never. I took care of her before she was admitted to the nursing home & visited her 2-3 times a day. I buried her. Also, my siblings said that my POA died with my aunt. I am wondering if they are correct. If so, what if I had filed suit before my aunt died & still had POA? My aunt did not have children of her own, she considered me as her daughter. My question is, does my siblings have a right to any money that I may receive from a negligence suit from the nursing home? Thanks

Attorney Answers 3

Posted

The answer depends on a lot of things. Did your aunt have a will? If so, that determines who receives any of her estate. Her estate includes all of her earthly possessions that she had at the time of her death and any claims against others she may have had but now can't pursue since she is deceased. You will be bringing suit on her behalf as either her personal representative or executor of her will to recover damages against the nursing home. All the money recovered, if any, will become part of her estate and how her estate is divided up depends on the probate court. If she had a will, it will be divided up according to that, but if she didn't have a will then it will be divided according to MS law, which will be distributed amongst the nearest living relatives. It doesn't matter what your other siblings did or did not do during her life. Nor does it matter that you had a POA. The POA is NOT A WILL. The short answer is that any money you recover, you will probably have to share at least some of it with your siblings unless there is a will that states otherwise. I would recommend that you cover this issue when you speak with the attorney who will be handling your case against the nursing home.

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Thank you

Posted

My colleague is correct that you need to discuss all this with an attorney that does a great deal of nursing home litigation. Additionally, in Mississippi, a POA DOES end at death. An estate, either testate or intestate needs to be opened to handle the affairs of your aunt.

The law office of Anders Ferrington 601-316-8428 practices state wide. In no way am I offering you legal advice, and in no way has my comment created an attorney-client relationship. You are not to rely upon my note above in any way, but instead need to sit down with counsel and share all relevant facts before receiving fully-informed legal advice.

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Damages in wrongful death cases can be complicated but here is a brief breakdown of the split. There are damages to the estate which would involve funeral costs, pain and suffering of the decedent while alive, and other types of damages. Those damages go into the estate and are split as determined by probate law (will depend on whether there is a will or not). There are also damages to the individual to compensate them for their loss. This is where your damages would be greater than the other siblings due to your close relationship with your aunt. This is an area of law which was very complicated and there have been a couple of cases in the last decade to help clear this area up. You need the help of solid counsel that handles wrongful death litigation of this type.

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Thank you very much. I was just wondering if it had made a difference if I had started a suit BEFORE my aunts death, since I had POA? I just would like to know because I was mistreated by my siblings while I was caring for my aunt; and now they are now trying to profit from my aunt's death by threatening to get a copy of the death certificate & filing suit themselves. The death certificate states "....due to sepsis from bedsores". Again, thank you

William B Palmertree

William B Palmertree

Posted

Well, if the malpractice action had been started before her death then neither you nor your siblings would have been entitled to anything until she had died. Once she died from the alleged malpractice the case became a wrongful death suit. The fact is you did not start the suit then and it really has no effect on your current situation. You also mention the cause of death noted in the death certificate. While that is helpful in determining whether you might have a claim, it doesn't really affect anything at trial as it is hearsay. You would need the testimony of the doctor who made this diagnosis to testify to it and also the cause of the condition placing fault on the nursing home. A competent attorney practicing in this area will be able to advise you on these issues.

Asker

Posted

You were very helpful. Thank you.

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