Skip to main content

My mother died recently due to nursing home neglect. She had no assets. Her only income was social security and a pension.

Rutherford, NJ |

I consulted an attorney to file a "wrongful death" suit. Attorney says that I must go to
surrogate's court to file for administrator of estate. Don't want to do this as then I would have
to list all my mother's debts (credit card, medical bills- not covered by insurance) Don't even
know if there is a case until medical records are obtained and perused by medical experts.
Right now, I just mark deceased on bills and include notation that there is no estate to probate.
What should I do? Don't want to pay $150 to file and additional costs to be bonded for a case that may never get off the ground

+ Read More

Attorney answers 3


Mr. Hinze and I are from California but I understand that generally to be true in most jurisdictions. Any power of attorney would have died with your Mother so I am unsure on how you might get her records unless she signed a HIPAA authorization or its equivalent to allow you access. On the other hand, if you suspect neglect and think you have a case, $150 is a small price to pay to sue for your Mother.

Use the web site to find an attorney in your area. In addition to that, contact your local bar association for referral to an attorney who specializes in this. Often, but not always, the attorney will do an initial consultation free of charge. You will then be in a better position to determine what to do next. Best of luck to you!

If you liked this answer, click on the thumbs up! Thanks. Eliz. C. A. Johnson Post Office Box 8 Danville, California 94526-0008 Legal disclaimer: I do not practice law in any state but California. As such, any responses to posted inquiries, such as the one above, are limited to a general understanding of law in California and not to any other jurisdiction. In addition, no response to any posted inquiry should be deemed to constitute legal advice, nor to constitute the existence of an attorney/client or other contractual or fiduciary relationship, inasmuch as legal advice can only be provided in circumstances in which the attorney is able to ask questions of the person seeking legal advice and to thus gather appropriate information.


If you can get access to her medical records without becoming the administrator of her estate you should do that and get the them analyzed by a competent attorney. At least then you will know if it is worth opening an estate administration to attempt to collect the claim. If you collect money you will create value in the estate and from that the creditors will have a right to be paid.

The ideas and opinions expressed in this comment are generalities only and not based upon a thorough analysis of your situation or the law that might apply to you. As such they are intended to be general guidance and not legal advice. Use this information to assist in your analysis as to what you want to ask an attorney when seeking legal advice, Nothing stated herein shall be deemed to create an attorney-client relationship with you nor legal advise for you to use.


In Florida, the next of kin can get hospital records without going to probate court. You would be the next of kin so the lawyer wouldn't need anything else but for you to sign a medical authorization and affidavit wherein you swear that you are the daughter and next of kin of your mom, get the records and then take them to an expert to determine wthether nursing home negligence is actionable. Nursing home cases are tough to prove, and collection can be an issue as well. Make sure you found the most experienced aggressive lawyer you can.

Wills and estates topics

Recommended articles about Wills and estates

What others are asking

Can't find what you're looking for?

Post a free question on our public forum.

Ask a Question

- or -

Search for lawyers by reviews and ratings.

Find a Lawyer