Litigation is full of surprises. One of the biggest shocks could be when one of the parties in your case passes away during the pendency of the action. You will probably ask yourself and your lawyer, “What now?”
While the passing of a litigant is extremely unfortunate, the Courts do have mechanisms that allow the case to continue moving forward following the event. Counsel for the decedent must notify the court and the other parties of their client’s passing to keep the court abreast of their status. The court and the other parties must be notified because an action cannot be prosecuted by, or proceed against, a deceased individual. The decedent’s estate needs to be substituted for the decedent as the plaintiff or defendant in the case.
If you find yourself in a situation where the other party will not submit the required notices to the court, fails to raise an estate for the decedent, or does not substitute the estate into the case, then you can notify the court and request that the decedent’s next of kin and/or estate act. The litigation can continue. Death does not always mean the end of your case.