Wrongful death lawsuits can be brought against any person or corporate entity responsible for the death of a loved one. If the wrongful death claim is proven successful, the next of kin may be entitled to a financial settlement. What happens when the next of kin is a minor child?
When the next of kin is (are) too young to legally manage their financial settlement, a wrongful death trust can be drafted on their behalf.
Wrongful death settlements and trusts
A wrongful death suit can be filed by the personal representative of an estate, and/or the surviving family members such as parents, children and surviving spouses. If the claim is successful, they may benefit from the settlement or judgment—even if they’re not named in the deceased’s estate planning documents.
The probate court is responsible for approving the distribution of a wrongful death settlement. Eligible parties can also agree as to how the settlement is distributed. If the court approves the agreement, the settlement will be allocated as planned. When an agreement cannot be reached, the court can distribute the settlement equitably, as they see fit.
Sometimes a minor child will receive settlement funds. In such an event, the probate court has the power to create a wrongful death trust for the minor. This holds the money in trust until the child reaches the age of 25. The court can also make provisions to distribute the assets in part, before the child reaches the age of 25. Otherwise, any assets remaining in the trust will be paid in one lump sum upon the child’s 25th birthday. A wrongful death trust is an effective option to preserve the settlement until the child is old enough to self-manage the funds.
Get experienced legal help for your wrongful death trust proceedings
Filing and winning a wrongful death suit is just the beginning. When a trust is necessary, you’ll need a lawyer with financial knowledge and experience in complex trust administration. Call James Bart Leonardi, LLC for immediate help.
Our Cleveland, OH trust administration and litigation law firm can help plaintiffs or plaintiff’s attorneys navigate probate court filings, hearings and more. You will need a skilled professional on your side—someone who understands financial principles, wrongful death damages, probate and estate planning administration. Call today for a free consultation. We look forward to helping you throughout your probate court proceedings.