An estate is a legal entity that acts in the place of a deceased person. If someone dies due to another person’s negligent actions, only the executor or administrator of the estate is permitted to bring a wrongful death lawsuit.

Establishing an executor can be difficult when the person is not named in the deceased’s will. If you recently lost a loved one in a fatal accident, reach out to a dedicated wrongful death attorney. At The Warren Firm, our legal team could help you with establishing an estate representative for a Charlottesville wrongful death claim.

Understanding the Difference Between an Executor and an Administrator

There are two types of estate representatives—executors and administrators. An executor is a pre-determined representative of the estate who is named in the deceased’s will. Many fatal accidents are unexpected, and the people involved in these unfortunate events often do not have a will.

In these instances, a family member, such as a spouse or child, may become an estate administrator. Typically, someone’s spouse or child would qualify for this role.

Full vs. Limited Administrators

If the decedent had significant assets, it is recommended that a family member become a full administrator of the estate. Once someone steps into this role, he or she may hire an estate attorney who could take on certain responsibilities such as filing an accounting with the court.

When a deceased person does not have many assets, a family member may qualify as an administrator for the limited purpose of filing a wrongful death action. An attorney could provide your family with more information about the difference between an executor and an administrator of an estate.

Qualifying as an Administrator of the Estate

A family member may ask to qualify as an administrator at the clerk’s office or courthouse of the county or city where the deceased person lived at the time of his or her death. When multiple people want to fill this position, all willing parties may apply, and the court can determine who the administrator of the estate will be. Because every court handles these cases differently, it is helpful to hire an attorney when going through the process.

After a certain period, if no family member has qualified, another party may present to the clerk’s office and be named the administrator of the estate. If the clerk’s office is not comfortable naming that person or cannot decide who to qualify as the administrator, the issue can go before the circuit court. A knowledgeable wrongful death lawyer could represent you in any hearings concerning the appointment of an administrator.

Filing a Wrongful Death Action in Charlottesville

Anyone who wishes to initiate a wrongful death action should begin by hiring an attorney. The administrator or executor of the estate must file the lawsuit in his or her name, not in the name of the estate itself.

Filing a civil suit in the wrong person’s name could harm your case. For this reason, it is crucial for estate representatives to work with a legal professional when filing wrongful death claims.

An Attorney Could Help with Establishing an Estate Representative for a Charlottesville Wrongful Death Claim

Attempting to name an administrator on your own can be difficult. Every clerk’s office in the state handles qualifying an administrator of an estate differently, so it is best to retain a skilled lawyer to walk you and your family through the legal process. Reach out to an attorney at The Warren Firm before establishing an estate representative for a Charlottesville wrongful death claim.