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Estate Administration to Pursue Legal Claims – Part 1

We recently received a call from a personal injury attorney in need of help.  The attorney had pursued a wrongful death claim on behalf of the children of their father who died in motor vehicle accident.  Their father had no  assets at the time of his death and in fact was a Medicaid recipient.

Because, in wrongful death actions, there typically is a claim brought by the estate in addition to one by individual family members, an executor or administrator needs to be appointed to pursue – or prosecute – the claim on behalf of the estate.  Dad left no will, however, so no executor could be appointed.

No administrator had to this point been appointed because, as I related, there had been no need for one.  Dad had no assets so there was no reason to go thru the estate administration process.  While the value of the claim could not yet be determined with any certainty, the attorney believed the claim had value but needed someone to be able to sign necessary documents and make decisions about the claim on behalf of the estate.

Enter someone called an administrator ad prosequendum. The term “ad prosequendum” is a Latin term meaning “for prosecution”.  An administrator is appointed for the limited purpose of prosecuting a claim on behalf of the estate.  Unlike a general administrator, no bond is needed since there is no money to protect just yet so the administrator avoids needing to pay an insurance premium – at least until any money is received.

Next week I’ll share with you who can serve as administrator ad prosequendum and  what happens when the claim results in a money judgment or settlement on behalf of the estate.