Can you libel a dead person?

Q: A professor recently committed suicide at my school. Rumors abound that he had been caught up in a financial scandal, but he’s obviously no longer around to interview. Is it possible to libel a dead person?

A: No. While a person’s estate can continue to pursue a libel claim filed by a person before his death, in America only a living person can initiate a defamation claim for damages to their reputation. If there is indeed alleged financial impropriety related to the professor’s job, there are ways to track down that information.

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