This would depend on whether the decedent had a will or not. Generally there would not be compensation for the party who pursued the lawsuit but the children can agree to compensation. It would be best to discuss this with a probate attorney.
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The law in Tennessee, T.C.A. § 20-5-106, et seq. provides “that in a wrongful death suit only one right of action exists: the action that the decedent would have had, absent death, against the negligent wrongdoer . . . [t]he decedent is the sole party who holds a right of action or claim in a wrongful death suit.” In other words, “[i]n Tennessee, a wrongful death action belongs to the deceased person and not to his survivors.”
There will be two lawsuits in this situation. The first is the wrongful death suit itself, which is against the negligent person(s) who caused the death. That suit is brought by the surviving spouse or other next of kin. There should also be a probate case opened to properly distribute the proceeds, if any. Time and expenses are usually not recoverable in the wrongful death suit, but might, at least partially, be reimbursed under the right circumstances in the probate action. Your question and this answer are very general, and an attorney can help you with all the specifics. Find a qualified personal injury attorney and a qualified probate attorney in your area.
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I agree with Attorney Dupler. In my experience, those persons who have made claims in the wrongful death suit can agree on a distribution. If they fail to do so, the judge determines the distribution. A Will may or may not be relevant, because the proceeds of the suit may pass outside of the estate, directly to the beneficiaries.
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