Confronting the death of a loved one is never easy, and when that death was unexpected and avoidable, it becomes all the more difficult. In addition to the emotional trauma, spouses, children and other dependents often wonder how they can continue to meet their basic financial needs. For these reasons, it is important to act quickly when a loved one is killed under these circumstances.
California’s wrongful death law allows certain family members and/or the personal representatives of estates to bring legal action on behalf of certain survivors:
Surviving spouses or domestic partners
Surviving children or grandchildren
Dependent parents or stepchildren
Dependent putative spouses who believed in good faith they were married to the deceased
Minors who resided in the household for the 180 days preceding the death
When a loved one dies because of the negligence of another, it is sometimes necessary to open an estate to pursue these legal rights. This is true even if the deceased had little or no property. Finding your deceased loved one’s will should be a top priority. If there is no will, an estate can still be opened and a personal representative can be appointed under the laws of California.
While it is always important to have sound legal advice following the death of a loved one, it is especially crucial when that death was unexpected and avoidable.