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Q&A: My brother settled a wrongful death after my mother past away in a nursing home when i found out call his lawyer

Question:
“My brother settled a wrongful death after my mother past away in a nursing home when i found out call his lawyer three of six kids were not told about this case. until they settled the word then leaked out .i contacted the lawyer that handled the case, telling him there was three other kids. he was in shock. what do i do. what can i do. this happen in arizona this case is the same as the wilmot vs wilmot case.

i have contacted some lawyers in arizona one told me he wouldn’t take the case because he didn’t think the lawyer left the other three of us kids out on purpose. others that i have spoke with tell me that this case is mind blowing and ready to take the case until i tell them who the other lawyer is and then they get quiet quick. i know the lawyer that left us three kids out has a big law firm. but the law is the law these lawyers shouldn’t shy away because this lawyer is part of a big firm. but the law is the law these lawyers shouldn’t shy away because this lawyer is part of a big firm. what happened to doing the right thing for people that can not do it themselves!!!!

Answer:
I am sorry to hear about your loss.

And your reference to Wilmot v. Wilmot is 100% correct.

The Wilmot case holds, among other things, that the lawyer you contacted owed you and the rest of the claimants (technically called “statutory beneficiaries”) a fiduciary duty. The case also holds that the person(s) settling the case — that is, the claimants that approved and accepted the wrongful death settlement money — owe you and the rest of the claimants an identical duty of care to ensure that your claim is protected and/or that you participate in decision-making and settlement approval.

You are also entitled to your own attorney. That is, you do not need to use the same attorney as your siblings and, quite often, you shouldn’t because of potential or actual conflicts of interest (e.g., where you are competing for a portion of limited settlement proceeds).

You need to speak with a lawyer, and soon. You may have lots of different rights and remedies, and time is of the essence.

Again, I am sorry for what you’ve been through and sympathize that things may have been made worse by learning of a settlement which you were not properly informed of.

Geoff Trachtenberg
Levenbaum Trachtenberg
(602) 271-0183

Geoff Trachtenberg is a partner at Levenbaum Trachtenberg, a personal injury law firm located in Arizona, California, and Utah. You can find him on and Avvo discussing law and helping people with their legal needs.

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