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My husband had a lawsuit for injuries & died suddenly w/o a will. I was married to him at time of injury & at death.Do I get $?

New York, NY |

If the suit is settled, since he had a retainer agreement with an attorney, I imagine they will get a portion. But am I entitled to his share of the settlement. There is no other next of kin, children or grandchildren....?

Attorney Answers 13

  1. You need to get Letters Testamentary issued by Surrogate Court. But, generally, yes.

    Ryan Finn * 518.213.0115 * * Referrals are the highest form of compliment * Hacker Murphy serves clients throughout New York State and always pays referring attorneys a reasonable referral fee in contingency cases

  2. I would first confirm that the case is settled and that you husband signed the release and settlement check and that the lawyers are holding funds for distribution.

    If there is a settlement the was finalized and you were married you should be his legal heir.

    I would consult with an probate and estate attorney in person to get the answer on how to receive the funds. You can find one on AVVO.

    Good luck.

    AVVO DISCLAIMER I am licensed in Minnesota only and my answers on Avvo assume Minnesota law. The answers I provide are for general information only and are NOT INTENDED AS LEGAL ADVICE and therefore must not be relied upon. Legal advice must be based on the interaction between an attorney and client and specific exact facts and the law. I do not retain clients without a signed RETAINER AGREEMENT. The Avvo forum does not allow for the discussion and the interaction necessary to form a complete legal analysis. Therefore the answers given to any specific question would most likely be different if there was attorney-client interaction. The exchange of information through this forum does not establish such an attorney client relationship. An attorney-client relationship is established only by personal and direct consultation with me followed by the execution of a written attorney-client agreement signed by each of us. The communications on this website are not privileged nor are they confidential and I assume no duty to anyone by my participation on Avvo or because I have answered or commented on a question. All legal proceedings involve deadlines and statutory time limiting statutes. So that legal rights are not lost for failure to timely take appropriate action and because I do not provide legal advice in the answers to any question, if you are an interested party you should promptly and personally consult with an qualified attorney for legal advice licensed in the proper jurisdiction. Finally, see Avvo's terms and conditions of use, specifically item 9, incorporated by this reference.

  3. The short answer is yes. The longer answer is that you first must petition the Surrogates Court to be appointed the Administratrix of the Estate. Assuming the Court grants your petition, it will issue you Letters if Administration that will permit you to proceed with the case. You must then retain an attorney to represent you. You can hire the same attorney that your husband had, or retain an attorney of your choosing. If or when the case ultimately settles, the proceeds would then be distributed in accordance with the Intestacy laws if the state. EPTL 4-1.1 sets forth how an estate is distributed when a person dies without a will. If you were married and had no children, you would be entitled to all of the proceeds of the estate. Even if you had children, you would be entitled to the first $50k plus half of the remainder. I highly suggest you contact an attorney that is familiar with both setting up an estate and personal injury cases. If you were happy with your husbands lawyers, call them. Good luck and I'm sorry for your loss.

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  4. Call his lawyer.

    I am a former federal and State prosecutor and now handle criminal defense and personal injury/civil rights cases. Feel free to check out my web site and contact me at (212) 577-9797 or via email at I was named to the Super Lawyers list as one of the top attorneys in New York for 2012. No more than 5 percent of the lawyers in the state are selected by Super Lawyers. The above answer is for informational purposes only and not meant as legal advice.

  5. Under intestate succession in NY you would be entitled to everything. Consult with the personal injury attorney to finish the case.

    If this answer is helpful, then please mark the helpful button. If this is the best answer, then please indicate it. Thanks. For further information you should see an attorney and discuss the matter completely. If you are in the New York City area, then you can reach me during normal business hours at 718 329 9500 or

  6. Yes. Contact the lawyer.

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  7. The litigation would be "stayed" as a result of the death of your husband until such time as somebody ( you) is appointed the administrator of his estate and the administrator is substituted for your husband as the plaintiff in the case. I am assuming that your husband's death was not related the injuries claimed in the lawsuit? if so, then the claim is not one for wrongful death but for negligence. The settlement proceeds would be an asset of the estate to be distributed pursuant to NY's intestacy statute ( who inherits when one dies without a will) In this case, you are the sole heir and would receive the settlement proceeds. You need to reach out to your husband's attorney and discuss all this with him/her. Good luck.

    My firm is a second generation family firm successfully handling personal injury and medical malpractice cases for over 35 years. "Let Our Family Help Your Family" 516 466-7900

  8. Generally speaking, you should be. But there are so many other factors that it would be almost impossible to answer your question in this forum. For example, you say you were married to him at the time of his death. Where you still living together? Legally separated? If so, then you may very well be entitled to his settlement proceeds, assuming it has settled or will be resolved/settled in future. In any event, you need to contact his lawyer.

  9. I am curious, if your husband had an injury claim pending, who has been representing you for your spousal derivative claim?

    I suggest you start by contacting your husband's attorney. Find out about your derivative claim and how it is being protected.

    You will need to be appointed to represent your husband's estate. Other attorneys here have already commented on what needs to be done. Speak with an attorney as soon as possible.

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    If this information has been helpful, please indicate below.

    Mr. Lundeen is licensed to practice law in Florida and Vermont. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that, if known, could significantly change the reply and make it unsuitable. Mr. Lundeen strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in your state in order to ensure proper advice is received.

    This ans. does not create an attorney/client relationship.

  10. As long as you were married you should clearly be his heir. I would contact his attorney and contact your own should any complications arise. Best of Luck.

  11. If the case is still pending a motion must be made in the Surrogate's Court to stay the proceeding pending the substitution of a legal representative in this case an administrator. The petition for administrator must be filed in a reasonable time. The lawyer representing your husband does not have authority to settle the case until the administrator is appointed and substituted as legal representative. If the case was settled and settlement funds were received before your husband died a petition needs to be filed to have an administrator appointed for your husband's estate. Once an administrator is appointed the lawyer can release your husband's share pursuant to the retainer agreement between your husband and lawyer to the administrator to be deposited in an estate account. The administrator is obligated to satisfy any known debts of your husband and any balance remaining after any debts satisfied will be paid to you.

  12. Call your husbands lawyer and find out the status of the lawsuit. You however, may need to hire your own lawyer that is experienced in estate and intestate succession to protect your interest in the settlement, including any tax liabilities that may arise.

    Attorney Stacy E. Pepper is licensed in all State and Federal Courts in Mississippi. He is a founding Partner in the law firm of Pepper & Odom, P.C. Nothing posted here constitutes any attorney client relationship and is meant for educational purposes only. Office hours are 8:00 a.m till 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. Phone: 601-914-9219 Facsimile: 888-456-2160

  13. The lawyer needs to meet with you an have you appointed as the administratrix of the estate. It is a process of going to your local surrogate court and filing a petition for the appointment of letters of administration. That way there is an actual plaintiff. The lawyer will either have the current defendants stipulate to amend the caption of the lawsuit naming you as the new plaintiff or they can make a motion to amend the caption to the court where the case is currently pending but stayed due to your late husbands death. I hope this assists you and I am very sorry to hear about your loss. I wish you all the best.

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