09 Jan Virginia: Wrongful Death – a Lawyer’s Trust
On October 29, 2015, the Virginia Supreme Court issued In re Lakisha Woodley, No. 141706, an appeal from Circuit Court of Southampton County, Virginia. Therein the Court emphasized Va. Code §8.01–54(C) dictates that “a wrongful death award ‘shall be paid to the personal representative’ for distribution to the beneficiaries”. Id. at *8 (emphasis added).
Therefore, the Woodley vehicle accident appeal held that “the trial court erred when it refused to direct payment of the minor beneficiaries’ awards to the personal representative [for funding of irrevocable investment trusts for the minors] and instead ordered that the awards be placed in a bank account maintained by the clerk of court.” Id.at *9. However, the Court distinguished that Va. Code §8.01–424 provides the circuit court broad authority over approval and payment of settlement of a wrongful death claim involving a minor beneficiary. Id. at *7.