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What Is the Process for Becoming a Personal Representative? 

Personal Representative

The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund permits a personal representative to file a VCF claim on behalf of a deceased victim. However, it’s vital to understand that strict regulations and a specific process must be followed when filing a deceased claim. While the Special Master will only appoint a personal representative in limited circumstances, an individual must first attempt to obtain the appropriate documentation from the probate court.       

File a Petition for Letters of Administration or Letters of Testamentary

Before you can file a deceased claim with the VCF, you must petition the probate court for Letters of Administration or Letters of Testamentary. Letters of Administration are applicable in cases where the decedent did not have a will, while Letters of Testamentary are used in cases involving a valid will. Importantly, the rules and procedures of the probate court must be followed to open an estate proceeding and obtain the documentation; this process is separate from filing a VCF deceased claim.    

Request an Appointment from the Special Master If You Cannot Open an Estate Proceeding

If there is a reason you are unable to open a probate proceeding, you can make a request to the Special Master to be appointed as the decedent’s personal representative solely for the purpose of filing a VCF claim. In order to do so, you must prepare a written statement that explains the reason you are asking for the appointment. You must also address the following in the statement:

  • Your name 
  • Your relationship to the decedent
  • Why you were unable to obtain an appointment through the probate court
  • Whether the decedent had a will or you conducted a diligent search for one
  • Whether you know of anyone else who has been named executor, if the decedent did have a will
  • Confirm that you have searched court records to determine no one else was named personal representative
  • Whether the decedent has any other living close relatives, including a spouse, children, parents, siblings, etc.  

The statement containing the above information must be signed under penalty of perjury. You are also required to submit certain documentation to the VCF, including the decedent’s will and documentation demonstrating how you are related.          

Submit Documentation for a Deceased Claim to the VCF

Once you have been appointed as the personal representative it’s essential to understand that there are a number of documents you will need to file with the VCF. A deceased claim will not be reviewed until all required documentation has been submitted. This includes the completed VCF claim form and signature page, the documentation from the probate court, the death certificate, proof of presence documentation, an authorization for the release of medical records, and information about life insurance. In some situations, the VCF may require additional information and contact the personal representative during the review process.

For the VCF to issue compensation in a deceased claim, the documentation submitted must establish that the decedent’s passing was caused by their 9/11 health condition. In the event the death certificate does not show that the death was caused by an eligible 9/11 illness, additional documentation may be necessary. If the decedent’s passing was not caused by their 9/11 health condition, a personal representative may be entitled to pursue a personal injury claim on their behalf.   

Comply with the Time Limit to File a Claim

It’s crucial to be aware that there is a strict timeline to register with the VCF to file a deceased claim. Although the deadline to file a claim is October 1, 2090, a personal representative only has two years from the victim’s date of death to register with the VCF — registration is a prerequisite to filing a claim. Failure to comply with the time limit can result in being barred from forever filing a deceased claim.   

Contact an Experienced New York City 9/11 VCF Attorney

If your loved one passed away in connection with an eligible 9/11-related cancer, illness, or injury, you might be eligible to pursue a monetary award from the VCF. The 9/11 VCF attorneys at The Dearie Law Firm, P.C. have helped victims’ families recover the maximum compensation they deserve from the VCF for their losses for over a decade. For a free consultation, contact us today. 


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