If Money is Recovered, Who Gets It?
Many of our clients are surprised to learn the law, rather than the decedent's will, dictates who will receive any funds recovered from a wrongful death claim. In other words, the money from the lawsuit is distributed as if the decedent did not have a will and pursuant to the dictates of the statute. Below are the most common scenarios:
If the decedent is married at the time of death, the spouse is entitled to all of the proceeds from the wrongful death suit.
If the decedent was married with children, the money is divided equally between the surviving spouse and children with a caveat: the spouse is entitled to at least one-third of the recovery. For example, assume the decedent was married with four children, the surviving spouse would receive one-third of the proceeds and the four children would divide the remaining two-thirds amongst themselves.
If the decedent was not married and did not have any children, his or her parents are entitled to all of the money from the lawsuit.
Other, more complicated issues can arise. Under limited, unusual circumstances, siblings of the decedent can recover wrongful death proceeds. Or, a parent who has not paid child support or had a relationship with a deceased child may lose his or her right to recover wrongful death proceeds.
If you have questions regarding how the proceeds of a wrongful death lawsuit are distributed, one of our experienced Tennessee wrongful death lawyers will be happy to answer your questions and guide you through the more complex situations. You can either contact us online or call us anytime of day at 615-742-4880 or toll-free at 866.812.8787.