Regularly, my office gets asked the same question. What do I do if I need to serve a defendant that has died? This scenario occurs most often in auto related cases where the at-fault driver dies. However, it can occur in any context.
Of course, this is not what is meant by a grave side service. To appropriately obtain service of process upon the defendant, it is necessary to have a legal representative appointed on behalf of the deceased individual. Michigan’s probate code (EPIC) has a process to appoint a personal representative on behalf of a deceased defendant. Most importantly, there is no need for the surviving family members or devisees to cooperate.
The process involves commencing a deceased probate estate in the county in which the deceased defendant resided. The petitioner of the probate action is the plaintiff in the underlying cause of action. EPIC provides that the plaintiff can petition as “a creditor’s nominee” as long as 42 days have passed since the decedent’s death. Upon my appointment, I accept service of process and turn over the lawsuit to the insurance carrier for its defense.
This is a perfect situation in which my office can relieve you of a headache and allow you to focus on doing what you do best…litigating your case.