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Parents of murdered teen seek estate access to sue for her death

The biological mother and father of a teenage girl who was the victim of a gruesome murder are now asking a Pennsylvania court to make them the administrators of her estate.

That's the only way that the girl's biological parents can gain the legal standing that they need to sue the state and the social services organization that put their daughter in the care of the woman who first adopted her and then murdered her.

The biological parents had lost their parental rights to the teen and two of her siblings years before when the teen was still a young child due to abuse the children suffered at the hands of other adults in the family.

The home the teen lived in with her adoptive mother was apparently even worse than the one she left. Authorities have charged the adopted mother and her boyfriend with the rape and brutal murder of the teen, whose body was first kept hidden and then dismembered. The story of the teen's heartbreaking life has touched a painful chord with many in the state as an example of how the social services system failed to protect children in its care by making sure that foster and adoptive parents were fit for the job.

Under the state's law, a wrongful death lawsuit can be brought on behalf of the beneficiaries of the victim's estate -- which would normally include the victim's parents. However, this case is likely to be complicated by the fact that the biological mother and father lost their parental rights -- making them legal strangers to their daughter. If the court appoints them the personal representatives of their daughter's estate, they would at least have standing to bring the wrongful death lawsuit, which might be the first step toward achieving some small measure of justice for the victim.

Heirs who are contemplating a wrongful death suit need professional advice before they proceed. The complex rules surrounding estate administration and legal standing to sue can be difficult to follow with an attorney's help.

Source: Daily Times News, "Biological parents of Grace Packer seek estate access," accessed Aug. 03, 2017

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