My father died 4 years ago from asbestos/mesothelioma. He was married to my step-mother for 30 years. They had a great marriage & were very much devoted to one another. I was very close to my father but the other 2 siblings were not (they hadn't spoken for over 15 years). I assume the surviving spouse gets the majority of the settlement, but what percentage would that typically be? I would appreciate any information on what might be a typical breakdown of the percentages.
I'm sorry to hear of your father's passing, but am happy to hear the law suit is nearing completion. This question could best be answered by the attorney handling the Asbestos case or another Injury Attorney that works similar cases.
I am not an injury attorney, but do have a small amount of experience in this.
If the Asbestos suit was brought by your father or your father's estate then the award will be payable to his estate. If the award money is payable to him or his estate then it is stuck in his name. It could only be unstuck by filing a Probate case. If you Dad died with a Will then the distribution of the estate would go as directed.
If your Dad died without a Will then the estate would be distributed under your state's "intestacy" statutes (intestacy generally explains how property is to be divided when a decedent died without a Will). Each state will have vastly different laws on Intestacy. You need to know what the laws are in the state of the probate (likely the state where your Dad lived in when he died). In Arkansas the intestacy statutes provide that all personal property (i.e. lawsuit proceeds) would go 1/3 to the surviving spouse and 2/3 to the surviving children of the decedent. Again, these laws are different from state to state.
There is a chance that the Asbestos case was not brought by your Dad or his Estate. Some states permit actions by surviving family members. Again, this is where consulting the Asbestos attorney would be helpful.
To some degree it depends on who the plaintiffs were in the wrongful death lawsuit. If the estate of your father is the only plaintiff it will receive the settlement proceeds. It may be that the entire recovery is community property in which event it would all go to your stepmother.
DISCLAIMER: The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship or any right of confidentiality between you and the responding attorney. These responses are intended only to provide general information about perceived legal issues within the question. Each state has different laws, each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. This answer is not a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in the subject area in your jurisdiction and who is familiar with your specific facts and all of the circumstances.
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