If a family member has died and I need to come to you for legal advice, what documents do I need to bring to our meeting?
First, I want to express my condolences if that is the case. It's never easy when a loved one has died. It's even more difficult if you believe that their death was caused by someone's wrongdoing or carelessness.
Second, here are the documents that will help greatly and will allow me to proceed with an investigation into your case:
1. An original death certificate (the funeral home will be able to provide this. Also, ask the funeral home for a bill marked "fully paid."
2. Let me know whether an autopsy has been performed. If so, I can arrange to obtain a copy of it from the medical examiner's office.
3. A list (handwritten is just fine-it doesn't need to be typed) of the names and addresses of any doctor your loved one saw within the last two years.
4. A list of the immediate family members, together with their ages, dates of birth and social security numbers.
5. If your loved one had a will, please bring a copy with you. (I need this to know who the executor or executrix (female executor) is.)
6. If your loved one did not have a will, one of the close family members, (you'll choose) will need to be named as the administrator of the estate. This simply means that that person will stand in place of the deceased loved one. He or she will have their name put on the litigation documents, but importantly, that person does not receive any different or greater share of the recovery simply because they are the administrator (or administratrix for a female).
7. If you have copies of any medical records, bring them.
8. Bring any medical insurance cards, bills and receipts from any health insurance company about the treatment your loved one received recently.
9. If your loved one was employed, bring copies of their tax returns and w-2 forms for the last three years.
10. When you meet with me, try and bring any family members who have knowledge or information about the specific events that led to your loved one's injuries and untimely death.
All of these documents assist me in promptly evaluating and processing your matter. Any original documents are returned to you, except for the death certificate. The Surrogate's Court requires an original death certificate for their file.