Does a Divorce Case End with a Spouse’s Death?

treesIn very rare cases, one of the spouses in a divorce may pass away before the case can be completed. What happens then? Are they divorced or married? Does the surviving spouse inherit from the deceased spouse? These are complex questions. In Arizona, if a spouse dies before the divorce is completed in most situations the couple is not divorced. Any orders that were put in place by the divorce are legally binding though, so if the court ordered spousal or child support and it was not paid, those orders are enforceable against the estate of the deceased. If all of the issues in the divorce were resolved or agreed to however, but not formalized at the time of death, the divorce may be implemented after the death by court order.

If the divorce is ended by the death of the spouse, the surviving spouse has the right to inheritance under the will if there is one, or under state intestacy laws, which grant a set percentage to a surviving spouse. The surviving spouse is considered next of kin for decisions involving organ donation, burial, cremation, and funeral services.  Note that although this is the way the law is applied, in these types of situations it common for the spouse to work with or hand over the decisions to other family members such as children or siblings.

If your spouse dies during the divorce, you will need to consult with your attorney about how to proceed with both the divorce matter and the estate case.

The Sampair Group provides experienced divorce representation in the Mesa, Phoenix, and Glendale areas of Arizona. Our attorneys are prepared to help you through any issues you may face as you move through your divorce. Call us now so we can help you.

Divorce and Death

WillDivorce and death are not things you often think about in conjunction with each other. Once your divorce is over, you and your ex can no longer automatically inherit from each other under Arizona’s probate law (if you have a will) or intestacy (a law that decides how assets are distributed if you have no will) should one of you die. If you and your spouse are legally separated, you are still legally married and still have the right to inherit from each through intestate succession.

If you and your spouse are still legally married and you have wills that name each other and one of you dies, that last will and testament is valid. It is important that you speak to your attorney about your will while you are going through the divorce process and determine if you should write a new one while your divorce is in progress. You should always have a new will created once your divorce is final so that you can choose new beneficiaries and executors, if your ex was your executor.

The Sampair Group offers more than 80 combined years of experience. Our Maricopa County divorce and family law attorneys are prepared to represent you in your case. Make an appointment with us today.