If aperson dies in a car accident and leaves no Will, what are their spouse’s rights?

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If aperson dies in a car accident and leaves no Will, what are their spouse’s rights?

My husband died in a car accident coming from work; it was determined “not at fault”. He left no Will or life insurance and now his mother wants all his benefits. What on earth do Ido if she’s taking over and I’m getting pushed to the side? She already put in a lawyer for the car accident. Am Ientitled to any of this money? Should I speak with a personal injury attorney? In Gwinnett. GA.

Asked on April 22, 2011 under Personal Injury, Georgia

Answers:

Richard Weaver / The Weaver Law Firm

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Did you end up speaking with an attorney?

Feel free to call us at 866-605-6226 to discuss.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Definitely speak with an attorney.

1) When someone dies without a will, their assets (anything they own) will pass by intestate succession. The intestate rules vary by the state and depend in part on the exact family members who survive, but the spouse will always get most, sometimes all.

2) As the wife, you can file a wrongful death claim. It's possible that  the mother can also file a claim, but whether or not she can, there is no doubt but that you can. If the other driver was at fault, you could recover--though if not at fault, the other driver likely does not have to pay. (Generally, there is no liabilty without fault.) Even if the police or an insurer has said the other driver was not at fault, you don't necessarily have to accept that--you can still sue, and try to prove fault in court.

It is therefore definitely worth meeting with an attorney to discuss your rights and recourse.


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