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Georgia Probate and Wrongful Death Answers: Why and when does the probate court and deceased’s estate become involved in a Georgia wrongful death claim?

Published February 12, 2018 by Bruce Millar

Georgia Probate and Wrongful Death Answers: In many wrongful death cases there are multiple claims for damages. In most instances, the surviving children or spouse will bring a wrongful death action.  O.C.G.A. 51-4-2.  Simultaneously, the deceased’s estate, through a personal representative, can and will usually bring the estate’s claims for pain and suffering, medical and final expenses, and if necessary – for punitive damages against the at-fault person or company.  In Georgia, an estate can seek separate damages than those sought in the wrongful death action, including hospital and medical expenses, funeral costs, and for the deceased’s pre-death pain and suffering.  If there is no person entitled to bring a wrongful death case, an administrator or executor of the estate, under O.C.G.A. 51-4-5, may sometimes be permitted to bring a case and hold any recovery for the next of kin.

In Georgia, the estate’s claims may be brought and litigated or settled after the probate court appoints a temporary or permanent administrator of estate.  This process is handled through the filing of a petition in the county where the deceased last lived, requesting that the Probate Court appoint a “personal representative.”  This usually means an executor or co-executor when there is a will, and an administrator if there is no will.  Any money that is later recovered for the estate’s claims, may pass through the estate and distributed to the proper heirs by the personal representative.

Our lawyers will help you and your family have the proper administrator or executor appointed at no additional charge in your wrongful death case.

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