Death of a Spouse During the Divorce

What happens when one of the parties dies during the litigation?  Can the estate of the now-deceased spouse intervene and secure part of the marital estate or does the entire divorce action collapse and the surviving spouse keeps it all?

In a recent case, the estate of the deceased spouse intervened to prevent the “unjust enrichment” of the surviving spouse, who the estate alleged had committed fraud against the deceased spouse.  The court decided that the estate will have its “day-in-court” and would not be prevented from trying to recover monies from the surviving spouse.

The above scenario of a litigant dying happens more than one may think (it tragically happened to one of my clients).  How would a new will drafted by that litigant, after the complaint was filed, have affected the outcome?

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