Does a will impact the amount of compensation collectible in a wrongful death claim?

A will doesn’t impact the amount of compensation that a Clarksburg family may collect in a wrongful death claim. However, it could decide who is named as the executor of the deceased’s estate and how any assets should be distributed to wrongful death beneficiaries.

Filing a Wrongful Death Claim in West Virginia

A personal representative appointed by the state can file a wrongful death claim. If an executor has already been named in a will, those powers are not granted until an oath is taken before the county court. The personal representative may or may not be a relative. The proceeds recoverable in a wrongful death claim are distributed to the heirs listed in the will.

If there isn’t a will, the court may decide who will be the wrongful death beneficiaries such as:

  • a spouse;
  • children;
  • parents; and
  • others who may have been financially dependent on the deceased.

How Compensation Is Determined in a Wrongful Death Claim

The amount of compensation from a wrongful death case isn’t dependent on the will. The court decides what is fair and just. However, the will might specify how assets should be divided. If not, the court will also determine in what proportions compensation from the wrongful death settlement or award should be disbursed.

Compensation for a wrongful death is based on the damages the decedent's survivors suffered. This is decided on a case-by-case basis because there are numerous factors that could impact this. For instance, if there are minor children left without a parent who would have provided training, nurturing and guidance the claim could account for this. Or if the deceased was the sole breadwinner of the family, the claim may also account for lost earnings.

Examples of damages that may be collectible include:

  • mental anguish;
  • sorrow;
  • costs for medical treatment;
  • reasonable funeral expenses; and
  • lost income and services.

Families facing a wrongful death suit can consult with an attorney to learn what rights they have after losing a loved one, including the impact a will may have on the case. The MIley Legal Group helps families in Clarksburg protect and pursue their rights to compensation and benefits after a wrongful death, so call us today at 304-931-4088 or contact us online.

Tim Miley
Injury Lawyer, Author, & Owner of The Miley Legal Group