Berman & Asbel, LLP

Family of female firefighter killed on duty waits for comfort

Joyce Craig died in December leaving behind an extended family and two children; a teenage son and a toddler daughter. She died doing her job as a Philadelphia firefighter. In the wake of her tragic death, the first of a female firefighter, city leaders declared her a hero and pledged to do all they could to support the family. But family members say they're still waiting for some solace and recovery.

Their experience seems to underscore why every person should take the time create a personal estate plan for themselves and their loved ones.

According to, city social workers took Craig's children from the family the day she died. They were reportedly placed with friends of their mother, though their fathers and others in the family indicated their willingness to take on the responsibility.

The family says there also have been problems getting access to much needed funds held in a firefighters' union fund. And benefits from three insurance policies are being held up because the Medical Examiner's office hasn't issued a complete death certificate as yet.

Perhaps the biggest issue stalling resolution in this instance is that Craig died without a will. Knowledgeable observers note that means that the courts are required to step in to sort out all the sensitive details and that takes time. Child custody is in question as is the structure of guardianship over the financial aspects of the estate.

One legal analyst says a lot hinges on the release of the death certificate. Such things usually only take days, but as of the writing of this post it's not clear whether that has occurred.

One other element that appears to be delaying action is a claim that faulty firefighter equipment might have contributed to Craig's death. The suggestion has been made that city officials are using the investigations into that situation to drag things out.

Source:, "Five months after on-duty death, heartache persists for firefighter's family," Dana DiFilippo, May 8, 2015

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