When a relationship breaks down, resulting in an Agreement or Court Order pertaining to spousal support or child support, it is rare that the parties contemplate what would happen to the ongoing support obligations in the event of the death of the paying spouse (the “payor”).
If this is not considered and the Spousal or Child Support Order does not stipulate whether the obligation to pay continues beyond the death of the supporting spouse, then the Support Order normally ends when the paying spouse dies. Relatively new legislation in BC does however give some possible relief for the surviving spouse, as the Family Law Act of British Columbia now allows the surviving spouse to seek a Court Order to continue the support. The support may be paid as a debt of the Estate, for the time period fixed by the Court.
This is welcome relief for those spouses whose support has ended due to the premature death of the former spouse.
Spousal or child support that continues after death of the payor, or life insurance with an irrevocable beneficiary designation, are two ways in which spouses can, when separating and making support provisions for the other, ensure that the support left for the spouse is adequate, even in the event of a premature death.