What Happens if My Spouse Dies While We’re Legally Separated in New York?

Two people sitting across from each other with paperwork, books, a justice scale, and judge's gavel sitting on a table between them.

If you and your spouse are legally separated in New York, what happens if one of you dies? Are you still considered to be their surviving spouse? Who is entitled to their estate? Keep reading for answers to those questions and more as we explain what happens if your spouse dies while you're legally separated in New York.

Will I Still Be Considered Their Surviving Spouse?

If you are legally separated in New York, the death of your spouse does not end your status as a married person, and you will still be considered their surviving spouse. This means that even though you are no longer living together as husband and wife, you may still be eligible to receive spousal benefits, such as Social Security or life insurance payments left by your spouse.

Will I Still Be Entitled to Their Estate?

Yes, you may be entitled to receive a portion of their estate. This includes any real property, life insurance proceeds, and retirement benefits they acquired during the marriage.

In addition, if you or your spouse were receiving Social Security survivor benefits when they passed away, it's important to note that these can still be available to you as a part of the legal separation process. The specifics of exactly what is required to receive this type of benefit will vary depending on the circumstances.

What if We Were On Bad Terms at the Time of Their Death?

Unfortunately, if you were not on good terms with your spouse at the time of their death, you may have to go through probate court to receive your share of the estate. If this is the case in your situation, it is in your best interests to speak with an experienced family law attorney to learn what options you have and determine what you should do next.

No matter how complex the situation or adversarial the relationship with one’s spouse may have been before their passing, legal guidance from trained professionals can be an invaluable asset during this difficult time. Deciding which steps need to take can be overwhelming, but having an expert by your side ensures that your rights will be protected and everything is done correctly for you and your family’s best interests.

Our legal team at Letterio & Haug, LLP have extensive experience handling cases involving family law and estate planning issues. To learn more about our law firm, and how we’ve helped clients in the past, read our clients’ testimonials.

To discuss your situation with us, give us a call at (845) 203-0997 or contact us online today for a confidential consultation with our experienced family law and estate planning attorneys in Dutchess County, New York.

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