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What is the real financial impact of a loved one’s sudden death?

Death is an inevitable part of life, but an unexpected, early death can have lasting ramifications for the people who loved and depended on the deceased. The people who are left behind when someone dies have to incur the costs of their loved one’s medical care prior to death and the expenses involved in a funeral, memorial service, burial or cremation.

For many families, a proper tribute to the deceased can cost on average between $7,000 and $12,000. That is a substantial expense for a family that wasn’t planning for it. However, only looking at funerary and medical costs fails to look at the big picture. The financial impact of an unexpected wrongful death can be hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars over the person’s expected lifespan.

You must consider a lifetime of wages and workplace benefits

Putting a price tag on the contribution of someone to your life may seem impossible, but there are guidelines that can help you do so. For example, you can look at what someone’s current income was at their time of death as well as their trajectory for career advancement and more income in the future.

You can then use that information to project an estimate for the income they could have earned over the rest of their life. The younger someone is and the more promising their career, the greater the overall financial impact of their death. The income that someone contributes to the family may have been the only way they could afford their mortgage and other expenses.

When adding up the total income of your loved one, their wages are not the only consideration. You should also carefully consider any bonuses, future raises or promotions, pension contributions, and other benefits that they might have earned and shared with their dependents and family members.

There are unpaid services your loved one likely provided to you

If you depended on your spouse for household maintenance, vehicle repairs or child care, they served a very important, practical role in your relationship. If you have to hire someone to perform those services for you after their death, that could mean hundreds or thousands of dollars of additional expenses over the course of your life.

Beyond practical services, there is also the emotional support and guidance that a loved one such as a spouse or parent provides. Paying a therapist or counselor for the support you received from a close family member could mean incurring thousands of dollars in expenses. All of that contributes to the total financial impact of your untimely loss.

Only when you know the actual figures can you take the necessary action to protect yourself and recover those expenses, potentially by filing a Maryland wrongful death lawsuit against an individual who caused your loved one’s death through negligence or a wrongful act.