In Kentucky, wrongful death lawsuits are brought by the Estate of the deceased person. Therefore to even have the authority to bring a wrongful death claim, an Estate must be setup through the Probate Court to empower a legally authorized representative for the Estate to handle the matters. Even though the wrongful death suit is started through the establishment of an Estate in Probate Court, the actual monetary settlement or award does not fall under the probated Estate. Even if the decedent had a will, the monetary funds from the wrongful death case are controlled by Kentucky Statute (KRS 411.130) which directs who is to receive the settlement and awarded funds.
KRS 411.130 directs that the funds from a wrongful death claim go to:
(1) If there is a living spouse, but no children, then 100% to the surviving spouse;
(2) If there is a surviving spouse and surviving child/children, then 50% to the surviving spouse and 50% is given equally to any surviving child/children;
(3) If there is no surviving spouse but there are surviving children, then the surviving children split the money equally;
(4) if there are no surviving spouse nor surviving children, then the money is split between the living parents of the decedent; and (5) if the decedent died without a wife or kids, and his/her parents are all deceased also, then the money would go to the Estate and be distributed through such to the right remaining heirs.
Additionally, there are a couple of Kentucky Statutes that deal with parents which have abandoned their children, as related to KRS 411.130. These statues are referred to as Mandy Jo laws, and deal with cases where KRS 411.130 would instruct money to go to the surviving parents, but not if the parent had abandoned the child and not had a role in the child’s life. Under the Many Jo laws, the courts treat the parent who was not involved in their child’s life as having not survived the child and therefore the wrongful death monies would pass to the next legal heir.
For more information on wrongful death proceeds and who the money legally goes to, contact Kentucky wrongful death attorney Brent T. Ackerson (by clicking here), or call the Ackerson Law Offices at (502) 882-5176 for a free consultation.