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Death of a Spouse in Virginia Divorces: What Happens.


Often a topic that is less desirable to discuss than divorce, is the topic of what happens when a party passing away while the divorce is pending. This is important because it’s easy to forget that in the middle of your divorce your wills, estates, and/or trusts should continue to be updated accordingly throughout the process. Keeping these matters current must be done while also adhering to the terms of any orders or agreements that have been made during your divorce process. Read our blog on pendente lite and other temporary divorce orders here.

Long answer short, if you or your spouse were to die while your divorce is pending, the divorce matters cannot conclude. It may be even more of a shock to learn that if the court has had a hearing and granted your divorce, divided your property, etc., but the actual, written final decree of divorce has not yet been signed and entered by the judge, the divorce and property matters are not legally resolved. This is because the court has lost the ability to divide your estate per the divorce laws on equitable distribution once a party has died. Due to Virginia law, judge’s must “speak through their orders” with their divorce rulings to make everything clear. So, divorce law will no longer apply, but the laws of inheritance will.

So, if you’re in the middle of a divorce and don’t have an updated will, trust, and/or estate, or have not considered executing these important documents at all, the time to do something is now!

Our experienced attorneys at Morris Williams LLC – A Family Law Firm are here to empower you to make the best decisions for your future by ensuring that you are contemplated all potential matters that could be affected by your divorce, even if not directly related. Contact us to today to schedule your consultation by calling (757) 226-9425 or email us at admin@morriswilliamslaw.com.

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