In most cases, the families of individuals who are incapacitated or deceased as a result of a VCF-eligible condition are able to file a claim on the victim’s behalf. Regardless of their family relationship to the victim, however, people filing a claim on behalf of a deceased victim must prove that they have the legal authority to do. They can do this by providing court documentation that shows that they have been named the victim’s Executor, Administrator of the Estate, or in the event that there is no will, that they are the person the court recognizes as having authority over the estate.
In these cases, the VCF Special Master is essentially looking for proof that whoever files or continues a VCF claim on behalf of a deceased claimant is an authorized representative of the victim’s estate and able to accept payments on their behalf. When there is more than one Personal Representative for a given estate, a “Lead Personal Representative” has to be selected and both co-Personal Representative should submit a signed and notarized statement recognizing which one of them they’ve selected to be deal with the VCF. This is incredibly important because the VCF makes payment directly to the appointed Personal Representative. Once a representative’s authority has been recognized, the VCF does not have any purview over how the payout is distributed among family or spent so it’s important that the person be an appropriate legal representative of the deceased.
Naturally there are sometimes complications that arise as estates are settled. Periodically there are circumstances in which a deceased victim’s Personal Representative has limited rights when it comes to either waiving the victim’s ability to participate in certain kinds of lawsuits or collecting large payments on behalf of the victim. In those situations the VCF offers detailed guidance about next steps on their website.
There are also periodically special circumstances in which a Personal Representative isn’t able to get the court documents necessary for geographic or legal reasons. In those cases the Special Master will sometimes appoint a Personal Representative for the purposes of the VCF claim or make alternate arrangements based on the specific circumstances. These situations are rare, however, and consulting an experienced VCF attorney can be helpful.
Make sure your family is able to collect the compensation they’re entitled to. Make sure that you sign a Will that appoints an executor of your estate and that you list your beneficiaries. Our firm does free Wills and Health Care Proxies for our clients. Take advantage of our offer.