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  • Writer's pictureSteve Navarrete

Serving Legal Papers to a Deceased Individual: What Process Servers Need to Know

As a process server, one of the many challenges you may face is serving legal papers to an individual who may be deceased inside a residence. While this scenario is not common, it can still happen, and it has happened. It is important to know what to do in such a situation.


When attempting to serve papers to a person, process servers should always be aware of signs of foul play as they approach every residence such as a foul odor or broken windows or doors and no response from any occupants, just to name a few. Process servers should use their best judgment in this scenario. If the process server has reason to believe that the individual inside the residence may be deceased, they should not enter the property and should instead call the authorities. It is best to wait for law enforcement to arrive and handle the situation.


When the authorities arrive, they will be able to determine if the individual is indeed deceased, and they will handle the situation accordingly. If the person is deceased, the process server's role will typically end, as they are not authorized to enter the property or serve papers to a deceased individual.


Encountering a deceased individual can be a difficult and challenging situation for a process server. However, by taking the necessary precautions and working with the authorities, process servers can ensure that the situation is handled properly and in accordance with the law. If you have any doubts about the situation, it is always best to err on the side of caution and call the authorities to perform a wellness check.


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