California Probate Code Section 7000 - Interpretation
In In re A.C. (2000) 80 Cal.App.4th 994, the Court stated:
"Probate Code section 7000 provides that upon the decedent's death, his or her property passes to the person to whom it is devised in the decedent's last will or as prescribed in the laws governing intestate succession.
Therefore, a cause of action only survives death if it relates to such property as may be inherited." ( Id. at p. 1004.)
Probate Code section 7000 provides:
"Subject to Section 7001, title to a decedent's property passes on the decedent's death to the person to whom it is devised in the decedent's last will or, in the absence of such a devise, to the decedent's heirs as prescribed in the laws governing intestate succession. "
Probate Code section 7001 provides:
"The decedent's property is subject to administration under this code, except as otherwise provided by law, and is subject to the rights of beneficiaries, creditors, and other persons as provided by law."
Therefore, a personal representative or successor in interest who files a survival action for damages suffered by the decedent necessarily acts in a representative and fiduciary capacity and any damages awarded in that survival action are subject to the rights of the decedent's beneficiaries, creditors, and other persons.
Furthermore, trial courts are authorized to issue orders to ensure that awards of survival damages are properly administered by successors in interest. Section 377.33 provides:
"The court in which an action is commenced or continued under this article may make any order concerning parties that is appropriate to ensure proper administration of justice in the case, including appointment of the decedent's successor in interest as a special administrator or guardian ad litem."
The 1992 Law Revision Commission Comment to section 377.33 states:
"Section 377.33 is new. the court in which the action or proceeding is pending has authority to resolve questions concerning the proper parties to the litigation and to make conclusive and binding orders, including determinations of the right of a successor in interest to commence or continue an action or proceeding. the references to appointment of the successor in interest as a special administrator or guardian ad litem are intended to recognize that there may be a need to impose fiduciary duties on the successor to protect the interests of other potential beneficiaries." (Cal. Law Revision Com. com., Deering's Ann. Code Civ. Proc., 377.33 (2001 supp.) p. 20.)