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12 February 2016 | Comment | Article by Roman Kubiak TEP

How can a claim be pursued on behalf of a deceased person?

In a recent case before the High Court, a daughter brought a claim against BBA Aviation Plc. for up to £110,000 in damages on behalf of her mother’s estate.

The High Court heard that Paula Briggs passed away because her husband unwittingly poisoned her with asbestos by hugging her every time he came home from work from the BBA Aviation Plc. factory, covered in dust. Mrs Briggs further exposed herself as she washed her husband’s dirty laundry, emptied his workbag and swept the dusty floor.

Mr Briggs died aged 76, after suffering a brain haemorrhage in September 2011. His wife fell ill in March 2014 and died in August 2014, aged 79.

The claim lodged in the High Court alleges BBA Aviation Plc. did not do enough to protect the couple from the deadly substance.

So how can a claim be pursued on behalf of deceased?

Where the deceased has made a will, they can appoint one or more people to act as their executor, also known as a personal representative.

s.15 Trustee Act 1925 allows personal representatives of the deceased’s estate to accept and settle claims. The personal representative will be responsible for making the claim and the compensation awarded should usually be distributed according to the will, or where there is no will, according to the intestacy provisions set out in s.46 Administration of Estates Act 1925.

Where there is a will that either fails to name executors or the executors renounce probate, it would fall to the residuary beneficiaries of the will to apply for a grant of letters of administration (with will annexed). Although the will is still valid, there is no longer an executor in existence so the residuary beneficiaries would be appointed in their place as administrators of the will. In this situation, the administrator of the estate is responsible for bringing the claim.

Finally, where the deceased did not make a will then the nearest relative (as set out by s.46 Administration of Estates Act 1925) will be entitled to act as administrator of the person’s estate and apply for a “Grant of Letters of Administration”.

In this situation, the administrator of the estate is responsible for making the claim.

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Author bio

Roman Kubiak is a partner and head of the market leading Contested Wills, Trusts and Estates team.

He advises across the whole spectrum of private wealth disputes, with a particular focus on high value, complex and cross-border disputes including: trust disputes, breach of trust claims and applications to remove trustees; will disputes, particularly those with an international element; claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975; and claims for equitable relief under proprietary estoppel, constructive trusts and resulting trusts.

Disclaimer: The information on the Hugh James website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. If you would like to ensure the commentary reflects current legislation, case law or best practice, please contact the blog author.

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