Impact of death on spousal support award
Jim Morrison said, “Life hurts a lot more than death.” Absent agreement, most spousal support obligations automatically terminate upon the death of the obligor spouse. When a financially supporting ex-spouse passes away, Jim Morrison’s observation can be especially true for the recipient spouse when the court order does not properly provide for support after death.
In some states, the Court has the discretion, as part of its order, to continue spousal support payments beyond the death of the obligor or obligee. Depending on your state law, certain types of support may automatically continue beyond the death. For instance, in West Virginia, spousal support in gross (set amount for a set term) continues to be paid beyond the obligor’s death, unless by agreement or court order. See W.Va. Code § 48-6-202. Rehabilitative spousal support also continues beyond the death of the obligor unless the obligor’s estate is likely to be insufficient to meet other obligations or if it is otherwise inequitable. Id.