What happens if someone defames someone who is dead?

Can their estate sue?

Asked on September 9, 2018 under Personal Injury, California


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

While it may be unfortunate if person knowingly makes false statements about someone who has died, in most states there is no recovery for libelous or slanderous statements made about an individual who has died. The reason is that such actions are for the protection of a person's reputation and thereby their ability to earn a living and enjoy the benefits of good standing in their community. However, once a person is dead, those considerations are gone. That having been said, some states do permit suits for defamation to be brought on behalf of deceased's estate under certain circumstances. To be certain of your rights, you should consult directly with an attorney who specializes in defamation suits as they can best advise you further.

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