It is vitally important to promptly open an estate and secure appointment of the legal representative of the estate. Even if the decedent died without any assets, an Estate file must be opened naming a Personal Representative in order for a wrongful death claim to be maintained.
A claim for wrongful death can only be brought by the “Personal Representative” of the decedent – either the Administrator (if the decedent died without a will) or the Executor/Executrix (if the decedent died with a will naming an Executor). The Personal Representative has the exclusive right to initiate and file a wrongful death claim, to the exclusion of beneficiaries, heirs, legatees, or survivors. Please note, however, that even though it is the Personal Representative who brings the claim, it is the beneficiaries or surviving family members who receive the case proceeds.