FATAL ACCIDENTS AND INHERITANCE CLAIMS

If a relative dies and before that person’s death, you were dependent or partly dependent on the person for financial support, you may be entitled to claim compensation.

FATAL ACCIDENTS ACT CLAIMS

In the first scenario, the death may have been the result of someone’s fault.

Who can Claim

First or all, you need to be a relative of the deceased.

That means

  • A spouse
  • A de facto partner of the deceased who was living in a defacto relationship with the deceased and had been living on that basis with the deceased for at least 2 years immediately before the deceased died;
  • A parent, grandparent, or step parent;
  • A child, step child, grandchild, or step grandchild;
  • Any person to whom the deceased stood in loco parentis ;
  • A brother, sister, half brother or half sister;
  • A former spouse or former de factor partner of the deceased whom the deceased was legally obliged to make provision for with respect to financial matters immediately before the deceased’s death

The court action should be commenced by the executor or administrator of the deceased’s estate on behalf of the relatives entitled to claim. If the executor or administrator does not commence the action within 6 months then a relative may commence the action on behalf of all other relatives entitled to claim.

When Can I Claim

You need evidence that your relatives death was caused by some wrongful act, neglect or default of another person.

You must commence court proceedings in relation to your claim within three years from the date your relative died. In limited circumstances, the time limit can be extended.

What Compensation Am I Entitled To

Your compensation will include;

  • Medical expenses incurred in the treatment for the injury which led to the deceased’s death;
  • Funeral expense which you have paid;
  • A sum which adequately compensates you for the loss of financial support provided by the deceased. The amount will vary depending on the circumstances of each case and it is advisable to obtain legal advice in relation to each claim.

INADEQUATE PROVISION IN A DECEASED’S WILL

In the second scenario, the distribution you are entitled to receive from the deceased’s will may be inadequate.

Specifically, if you are a relative of a deceased person and believe that inadequate provision has been made from the deceased’s estate for your proper maintenance, support, education or advancement in life, you may be entitled to apply to a court to change the amount distributed to you.

What you will receive following the deceased’s death will be initially determined by the deceased’s will but if there is no will, the estate will be distributed in a manner determined by legislation. The rules are complex. For more information on what you might be entitled to if there is no will, go here

Who Can Apply

You can make an application if you are;

  • The deceased’s spouse or de facto partner
  • A person who was receiving or entitled to receive maintenance from the deceased as a former spouse or former de facto partner whether the maintenance was paid pursuant to an order, agreement or otherwise
  • A child living at the date of death or within 10 months after the deceased’s death
  • A grandchild, depending on whether the person was being maintained wholly or partly by the deceased and whether the person has any living parents as at the date of the deceaseds death.
  • A stepchild in limited circumstances
  • A parent

Is there a Time Limit for Bringing the Application

An application to a court must be made within 6 months from the date on which the administrator becomes entitled to administer the estate. This will usually be the date when probate is granted if there is a will or when letters of administration are granted if there is no will.

It is possible for the 6 month time limit to be extended if there are good reasons for the delay and it would be just to do so.