What are a surviving spouse’s rights if the were separated at time of the other spouse’s death?

My friend and his wife have been separated for about a year. She recently passed away and he was not notified until now. Her family made the arrangements and decided on where she would be buried. What, if any, rights does he have as surviving spouse?

Asked on February 27, 2012 under Estate Planning, Arkansas


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for his loss and for the issues that have resulted.  I am going to assume here that they were just physically separated with out any legal paperwork between them and that she died so he was still really married but living apart.  If that is the case then he remained her spouse until her death and he has all rights, duties and obligations of a surviving spouse.  He should speak with an attorney in the area on how to handle things.  Good luck.

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