Can a Dead Person be Sued?

Q: In Georgia, Can a Dead Person be Sued?

It may sound like a bizarre question, but sometimes a claim arises against a person who passes away before the action is filed. So the question arises, how are legal or equitable claims made against a person’s estate?

Under Georgia law, a lawsuit against, strictly, a deceased person is invalid and the case will be dismissed. The proper mechanics of an action is to file the claim against the personal representative of the estate, not individually, but in that person’s representative capacity. For example, the styled party may read, “John Doe, as Executor (or Administrator) of the Estate of Joe Smith, deceased.” If there is nobody willing to administer the estate, a county administrator can be appointed.

This of course does not address other issues that will undoubtedly arise, such as whether the deceased person had a Last Will & Testament, or whether there are any assets in the estate.

Clark v. Masters, 297 Ga. App. 794, 678 S.E.2d 538, 539 (2009).
Estate of Norton v. Hinds, 182 Ga.App. 35 (1987).

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