What Happens When One Spouse Passes Away During a Divorce?

sad man sitting at table

Going through a divorce is an incredibly emotional time for the parties involved. However, if the unthinkable happens and your spouse passes away amid the divorce, you may be at a loss. Because this is an overwhelming time, connecting with a Los Angeles divorce attorney who can guide you through this process is critical. The following blog answers some of the most common questions you may have when this unfortunate instance impacts your life.

Does Divorce Stop When One Spouse Passes Away During the Proceedings?

Going through a divorce in California can be complex enough, but when one party dies in the middle of filing and finalization, you may not know how to proceed. It’s important to understand that your divorce will end when one spouse. Instead of a divorcee, you will become a widow in the eyes of the law.

What Happens to Property Division?

When one party dies, the courts will either completely dismiss the case or continue with the division of property. In California, when one spouse dies and the divorce is not finalized, they will adhere to the laws regarding the inheritance of property. This included following the will, which likely had the surviving spouse as a beneficiary. If there is no will, the state will follow the intestate laws of succession, meaning the surviving will inherit the community property and most or all of the deceased’s separate property. However, this can vary if the deceased party changed their will during the divorce process to write their soon-to-be ex-spouse out of the estate.

However, if the divorce is finalized, the estate’s executor is responsible for ensuring the property division is carried out according to the divorce decree.

In addition to inheriting their assets, you will also inherit any and all marital or separate debts. However, you are within your right to use the assets you received after their passing to pay off their debts. If the assets do not cover the entirety of their payments, you are legally responsible for paying off the rest on your own.

Should I Contact a Lawyer?

When your spouse dies during a divorce, it can be an overwhelming time. Not only are you likely grieving the end of your marriage, but you are now mourning the loss of someone you once loved. As such, it is imperative to connect with an experienced attorney as soon as possible during these times.

Unfortunately, many people try to navigate a divorce on their own, but when the unthinkable happens and your spouse passes away, knowing how to proceed can be even more confusing. As such, the dedicated team at the Zitser Family Law Group will do everything possible to guide you through these challenging times. Connect with our firm today to learn how we can help you.

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