When you suddenly lose a loved one in an unexpected incident, money is probably the last thing on your mind. You have to worry about telling your children, adjusting to a life without your loved one and handling your own grief. The practical implications may seem pressing but less immediately stressful.

Overlooking the real-world implications of a loved one’s death could mean undervaluing the financial impact of your loss and not seeking adequate compensation if you bring a wrongful death claim against the party who caused your loved one’s death.

Understand what compensation you have a right to seek

Under North Carolina law, your wrongful death claim can include claims for your loved one’s pain and suffering prior to death, their medical bills, their funeral costs, their lost wages and possibly punitive damages in extreme cases.

You also have the right to seek the present monetary value of your loved one, which includes not just their earning potential and the financial value of their employment benefits but also the protection, care, assistance and services that your loved one offered, as well as their companionship, comfort and advice.

Just the unpaid household work your loved one performed for you might represent thousands of dollars every month depending on the size of your family in the services that your loved one provided.

Establish value by determining a free market price

Looking at what professionals charge to perform the same services that your loved one provided for free is a good starting point for properly valuing a wrongful death claim.

If your loved one had full responsibility for child care, look at the cost of a nanny or a day care facility that offers comfortable levels of care to what your loved one provided. If your loved one did the cooking and cleaning, the cost of retaining a personal chef or a maid for your family could influence the amount of compensation you request.

While it’s hard to do, determining how much work your loved one did for the family and putting a price on it can help reduce the financial consequences of their death on your family.