When a breadwinner dies, surviving family members may have an urgent need for the wages that person had earned before his or her death. And even if survivors can afford to wait, it can come as a relief to them that there is an easy way to collect the money, without going through a court procedure.
Most states allow a surviving spouse or other family member to immediately collect, without involving the probate court, salary or wages that were earned by the deceased person. There may be a cap of a few hundred or thousand dollars on the amount that can be collected this way.
Commonly, all the family member needs to do is submit a short statement, signed in front of a notary public, to the employer. A sample affidavit is shown below. Most large employers are familiar with this kind of form; smaller ones, which might pay the surviving spouse the money even without a formal request, will probably be reassured by it.
Sample Affidavit for Collecting Wages
I, the undersigned, state as follows:
1. Harold T. Ericson, the decedent, died on July 16, 20xx, at Charleston, West Virginia.
2. I am the surviving spouse of the decedent.
3. No proceeding for the administration of the decedent's estate is pending or has been conducted in any jurisdiction.
4. West Virginia Code § 21-5-8a requires that earnings of the decedent, including compensation for unused vacation, up to $800, be paid promptly to the surviving spouse.
5. I request that I be paid any compensation owed by you for personal services of the decedent, including compensation for unused vacation, not to exceed $800.
6. I declare under penalty of perjury of the laws of West Virginia that the foregoing is true and correct.
Sarah M. Ericson (Date)