Q: When a settlement is reached in wrongful death case in Georgia, what is the protocol for allocating funds fairly?
Without "enlightened conscience of jury", how to allocate fairly to both estate and WD claims in order to satisfy equitably the heirs. Isn't there some sort of protocol or "golden rule"? Being a heir, I cannot decide things like pain and suffering prior to death and the total value of my Fathers life. Attorney my Stepmother hired is zero help and I risk upsetting other heirs if they do not think it is done fairly. I cannot find any guidance on this. Please help.
A: That is a great question and, unfortunately, there is no exact answer. It is generally the rule of thumb that the vast majority of the funds are allocated to the wrongful death claim. The reason being is that any funds applied to the estate claim are subject to any liens which may have been placed on the case as a result of the treatments the decedent received prior to his passing (i.e., hospital lien, workers' compensation lien, etc.). If there are no liens, then how the funds are allocated between the two claims make no difference from a legal perspective.
A: You, unfortunately, are in a conflicted situation if there is a will and it directs the estate to be divided differently than the intestate laws provide. As an heir, you do not have any decisions to make. Only the personal representative of the estate can allocate money to the estate, or at least negotiate with the heirs for an estate distribution.
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