Many states have laws that provide for the payment of a deceased employee's wages to a named beneficiary or, if a beneficiary is not named, to the employee's spouse or minor children. In Hawaii, state law requires an employer to pay a deceased employee's survivors all wages, sick pay, and vacation pay owed to the employee up to a maximum of $2,000. Payment may be made regardless of whether a personal representative has been appointed to handle the employee's estate.
The payment is due within 30 days after the death of the employee and is made directly to the surviving spouse or reciprocal beneficiary or, if there isn't one, to an adult child. The survivor must make a request for the payment from the employer and provide a sworn statement of the survivor's relationship to the employee. The law also requires the employer to obtain a written receipt for the payment. The employer is free from liability to the employee's estate to the extent of this payment. Also, if a payment was made to an incorrect party, the party that received the funds is liable to the party that is entitled to the funds (HI Code Sec. 388-4). There is additional information regarding an employee death related to an on-the-job injury.