HOW TO FIND YOUR WAY AFTER YOUR LOVED ONE HAS DIED How to find a New York lawyer & learn whether you have a case... It happens in the blink of an eye. One moment they're there...the next, forever taken from us. The emotions that flood over ourselves and our families range from sadness to anger and hatred. Some surviving family members revert into a shell. Others use the death as a call to action. However it affects you and your family, it's never easy to deal with. This series of articles helps you understand what your legal choices are, and also how to choose a lawyer that can best help you and your family. Important papers you need to find Q: 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? A: First, 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, the following documents will help 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 "paid in full." 2. Let your lawyer know whether an autopsy has been performed. If so, he 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, their addresses, 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. Your lawyer needs 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 your 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 executor. 7. If you have copies of any medical or police 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 your lawyer, 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 your attorney 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. Look for Part 2 of this series, titled "In Case of Death...Part 2"
Gerry Oginski
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NY Medical Malpractice & Personal Injury Trial Lawyer