Wendy K. Tse, a family lawyer in Long Beach, answers:
Spousal support usually ends upon the payor’s death, and it can be reduced if there is a change of circumstances such as the payor becoming disabled. A spousal support recipient could try to protect against support payments from ending with the payor’s death or disability by negotiating a buyout of spousal support where the payor pays a lump-sum to the recipient spouse. Therefore, the payor’s death or disability would not affect spousal support.
Alternatively, a spousal support recipient could obtain some type of security such as a life insurance policy on the payor’s life so that the recipient would receive some money should the payor predecease the recipient. Similarly, a spousal support recipient could obtain disability insurance on the payor; however, disability insurance is usually cost-prohibitive. Additionally, if the case involves a long-term marriage (one of over 10 years in length), the spousal support recipient may be entitled to collect a higher amount of Social Security upon the death of the payor.