Who gets the settlement?

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Who gets the settlement?

My uncle with no wife or kids died well in custody in jail because of the medical company in there. A law suit was filed and now they are basically getting ready to wrap things up. The uncle mother has passed away, he has 4 sisters and 1 brother which 3 of the sisters has passed away as well. Who would get the settlement for the uncle? Is it divided between the siblings are do it go to one person to divide between the siblings.

Asked on April 4, 2019 under Personal Injury, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

It will be distributed as will anything else he owned or had a right to (i.e. his "estate") as per the rules for "intestate successioon" if he had no will. (If he did have a will, follow the instructions in the will.) In NY, divide it between living siblings and siblings who passed away, but had children or grandchildren of their own. Ignore siblings of his who passed away without children or grandchildren.
Example: say of the 3 sisters who passed away, two had no children or grandchildildren and one had three children of her own. 
Of the 5 siblings, there were 3 who either lived or left descendents: divide the settlement (and the rest of the estate) into three equal pieces. The two living livings each get 1/3; the other 1/3 is itself then divided among the three living children of the deceased sister (each gets 1/9th).
However, you can't "hand out" the money: his estate needs to go through probate, and there must be a personal representative for the estate (or executor, if there was a will) who will have the authority to take in the estate and settlement money, use it to pay any expenses of the estate and valid claims (e.g. debts or bills) against the deceased uncle, and then distribute the remaining money, etc., subject to court approval. You should be able to get information about the probate process from the probate (sometimes called "surrogates's") court for the county in which your uncle had his legal residence, either in person at the courthouse or online. Or, better, hire an attorney to help you.


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