Orlando, FL asked in Wrongful Death for Georgia

Q: My mother passed we got a wrongful death suit my step father was made HOE and did not follow through on all terms.

After initial payment we where to divide $100,000+ between the 3 of us step father, brother and myself. Step father has decided he wants to not give me my portion. In 2016 the amount I was supposed to get after the initial payment was $37,000 but now with the interest that was added on that per GA law I see can be between 7-16%. I need help get my money and the lawyer that handled the case is all about my step father not everyone in the case so I need help.

Related Topics:
2 Lawyer Answers
James L. Arrasmith
James L. Arrasmith pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›

A: I'm sorry to hear about the loss of your mother and the difficulties you're facing with the wrongful death settlement. It sounds like a challenging and emotionally taxing situation. Here are some steps you can consider taking to help resolve this issue and obtain the funds you are entitled to:

1. Gather documentation: Collect any paperwork related to the wrongful death suit, including the settlement agreement, court orders, and any written communication discussing the division of funds. This evidence will be crucial in establishing your claim to the money.

2. Consult with a new attorney: Since the original attorney seems to be prioritizing your stepfather's interests, it's advisable to seek a new attorney who can represent your interests independently. Look for an attorney with experience in probate, estate, and family law matters. They can review your case and advise you on the best course of action.

3. Send a formal demand letter: Have your new attorney draft a formal demand letter to your stepfather, outlining the terms of the original agreement, and the amount you are owed, including interest. This letter should also set a deadline for payment and indicate that legal action will be taken if the deadline is not met.

4. Consider mediation: If your stepfather is open to it, mediation can be a less adversarial way to resolve the issue. A neutral third-party mediator can help facilitate a discussion between you and your stepfather to reach a mutually agreeable resolution.

5. File a lawsuit: If your stepfather refuses to pay and mediation is unsuccessful, you may need to file a lawsuit to enforce the settlement agreement. Your attorney can guide you through this process and represent you in court.

6. Contact the probate court: If your mother's estate is still open, you can petition the probate court to intervene and enforce the terms of the settlement agreement. The court has the authority to order your stepfather to distribute the funds according to the agreement.

Remember, the interest rate on your portion of the settlement will depend on the specific terms outlined in the agreement and Georgia state law. Your attorney can help you calculate the exact amount owed to you.

Pursuing legal action against a family member can be emotionally challenging, but it's important to advocate for your rights and ensure that the terms of the settlement agreement are followed. With the help of a skilled attorney and the proper legal steps, you can work towards obtaining the funds you are entitled to.

Anthony Matthews agrees with this answer

Anthony Matthews
Anthony Matthews
  • Cumming, GA
  • Licensed in Georgia

A: In a Georgia Wrongful Death case, the surviving children have the right to share the recovery with the surviving spouse. However, under Georgia law, the surviving spouse cannot receive less than one-third of the wrongful death damages (with limited exceptions). In the scenario you have described (a surviving spouse and two surviving children) each family member should receive one third of the recovery (with limited exceptions).

The surviving spouse has a duty to act as a representative for the surviving children in bringing the wrongful death claim. After settlement and recovery of funds, the attorney for the surviving spouse should hold the funds in trust and make sure they are divided to the surviving family members according to Georgia law.

You may have a claim if the attorney has improperly distributed the funds or the surviving spouse has refused to distribute them to you after the settlement and recovery are completed. Many factors could affect whether you have a claim, and who the claim is against. I recommend contacting a Georgia Wrongful Death attorney to consult about your options.

Justia Ask a Lawyer is a forum for consumers to get answers to basic legal questions. Any information sent through Justia Ask a Lawyer is not secure and is done so on a non-confidential basis only.

The use of this website to ask questions or receive answers does not create an attorney–client relationship between you and Justia, or between you and any attorney who receives your information or responds to your questions, nor is it intended to create such a relationship. Additionally, no responses on this forum constitute legal advice, which must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case. You should not act upon information provided in Justia Ask a Lawyer without seeking professional counsel from an attorney admitted or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. Justia assumes no responsibility to any person who relies on information contained on or received through this site and disclaims all liability in respect to such information.

Justia cannot guarantee that the information on this website (including any legal information provided by an attorney through this service) is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. While we intend to make every attempt to keep the information on this site current, the owners of and contributors to this site make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to from this site.