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Can I bring a wrongful death case if my relative died without a will?

Yes. Whether the decedent died without a will is irrelevant to whether a wrongful death case can be brought (and is usually irrelevant to who can bring a wrongful death case). That is because a will sets up the decedent’s estate, but under Georgia law, the estate claims are different than the wrongful death claims. (For more detail about this, see the question “What compensation is available in Georgia for a wrongful death case?” above.)

In Georgia, you do not have to be named in any will to be able to bring a wrongful death case. That is because Georgia law provides specific rules about who is entitled to bring a wrongful death case, and those rules have almost nothing to do with any will. In general, the person entitled to bring a wrongful death case is:

  1. the surviving husband or wife;
  2. the children of the decedent, if there is no surviving spouse;
  3. the decedent’s parents, if there is no surviving spouse or child; and
  4. the administrator of the estate, if there is no surviving spouse, child, or parent.

If there is no surviving spouse, child, or parent and the decedent did not leave a will, the probate court would appoint an administrator for the decedent’s estate, and that person would then be authorized to bring the wrongful death case. (For more detail about this, see the question “Who can bring a wrongful death case in Georgia?” above.)

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$150 Million Landmark Wrongful Death Verdict

Butler Kahn secured a $150 million jury verdict against Chrysler for the family of a 4-year-old boy who was killed in a devastating crash in Georgia. Our firm held the giant automaker accountable for Remington Walden’s death and for failing to warn the public about dangers associated with its Jeep Grand Cherokee. Learn More