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How are proceeds from a wrongful death lawsuit handled, deceased is the victim of the wrongful death claim.

Tampa, FL |

A probate estate was opened for the deceased personal representative to file claim of wrongful death. The law suit was successful and a large some of money is to be awarded. The decedents gross estate at the time of death was only $900,000. of which all was in an revocable trust, owned by a single trustee. No Federal Estate Tax Return was filed because the estate fell below the minimum guidelines (5.12mill). The lawsuit claim is estimated to be 9mill. before taxes and fees. How should this be reported? Who is responsible for claiming this money and what taxes apply?

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Attorney answers 5


Congratulations! With all that money to protect, perhaps now would be a good time to hire a lawyer?

It is the beneficiaries' and the personal representative's job to make sure the money is properly allocated. Whether or not taxes apply depends on whose recovery it is and what the recovery is for. I suggest you speak to your probate attorney and a tax accountant or attorney. Good Luck.


Your probate attorney can best answer your questions. She/he will know exactly what needs to be filed to comply with all the potential tax issues and make sure the estate is properly administered.

Carol Johnson Law Firm, P.A. : (727) 647-6645 : : Wills, Trusts, Real Property, Probate, Special Needs: Information provided here is anecdotal and should not be relied upon or considered legal advice. Every matter is different and answers given here are general in nature and may not reflect current Florida law at the time you are reading this posting. Please contact me if you feel you need additional assistance with your matter.


Given the facts that you have outlined, the personal representative is certainly represented by an attorney. Your question is best directed to that attorney, since that attorney is most familiar with the facts of the case. In general terms, it is the responsibility of the personal representative to handle this matter.

The above post is not intended as specific legal advice, since not all pertinent facts are known to the posting attorney. This answer does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship.

Eileen D. Jacobs, Esq.
Office: 2505 W. Virginia Avenue
Tampa, FL 33607
(813) 877-9600
Mailing: P.O. Box 14953
Clearwater, Florida 33766-4953
(727) 787-6595


Florida Statutes provide guidelines for which portion of a wrongful death settlement are estate assets, and which are a personal injury settlement. It is a complicated matter which can be unraveled for you by your team of the Probate Attorney working with the Personal Injury Lawyer. You should also involve a certified public accountant in that team; and, you should determine the allocation before the personal representative signs the final documents accepting the wrongful death settlement. You will probably need probate court approval of the settlement, so have your ducks in a row before the hearing. Best of luck to you; and, in this case, you should rely on personal professional advice.


There are a lot of issues in your question. As a wrongful death attorney, I can tell you that the one who makes a claim is the personal representative of the estate of the deceased. This is usually a spouce or child or parent of the deceased (although it doesn't have to be. That person can file the lawsuit on behalf of the estate and on behalf of the decedent's "survivors" as defined by Florida Statutes. The estate can claim things such as loss of earnings of the person who died and medical expenses (for example). The survivors can claim their pain and suffering and the loss of the decedent's support. A spouse is always a survivor/ There can also be others like children or parents depending on the ages and other circumstances. When a lawsuit is settled or a verdict is reached, it is already determined what each survivor will get. The money from the estate's claim is distributed to the heirs like any other asset of the decedent. Again, my perspective is from a wrongful death attorney and not a probate attorneys. A probate attorney can tell you more about who gets what from the estate. Best of luck!

Todd is a partner at the law firm of Stabinski & Funt, P.A., specializing in accident and insurance claims. Stabinski & Funt has been serving South Florida for over 42 years. Todd can be reached at or by phone toll free (877)48-CLAIM. This is not to be considered legal advice nor does an attorney-client relationship exist.

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