surviving spouse

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surviving spouse (plural surviving spouses)

  1. (law) A spouse that outlives the person to whom they are married, thereby obtaining legal rights with respect to the property of the deceased spouse.
  2. (taxation, US) An unmarried taxpayer whose spouse has been deceased for less than two taxable years, and who provides a home for one or more dependents of the deceased.

Usage notes[edit]

  • Under many statutory schemes, a "surviving spouse" is not merely a spouse who outlives the other, but must outlive the other by a set period, typically 120 hours; this is to prevent controversies over the disposal of property where both partners in a marriage fall victim to an accident, but one is prevented from dying longer than the other (particularly where the person who is saved for some brief additional period is unable to communicate during that time).