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The Effect of a Legal Separation in the Event of the Death of a Spouse

Spouses that are legally separated from one another share the legal obligations of a married couple with the division of property and assets of a divorced couple. Many things will be considered in the event one spouse dies while legally separated.


Usually in a legal separation, terms regarding the division of assets, child custody and other financial obligations are discussed in the separation agreement. If the spouses do not leave instructions about what to do in the event of their death, in most cases, the legal aspects of the death will be handled in the same manner as if the couple were still together.

Financial Responsibilities

Legally separated couples still share legal obligations regarding assets and property as well as jointly held debts. If a spouse passes, the remaining spouse must settle any debts common to the couple. Alternatively, the remaining spouse may still be entitled to the life insurance and/or pensions of the deceased spouse.

Familial Obligations

The specifics surrounding how a separated couple will handle familial obligations such as co-parenting or supporting ailing parents is normally spelt out in the separation agreement. If a spouse were to pass away, the obligations of the remaining spouse will stay the same unless the deceased spouse left instructions that contradict the agreement. The remaining spouse may have to go to court to settle any pending legal issues.