The death of any person creates for the decedent's family a number of problems of varying degrees of difficulty and immediacy. When the decedent's family consists of a surviving spouse and/or minor children who were dependent upon the decedent for their support, these problems have the highest degree of immediacy. If a question exists concerning the solvency of the decedent's estate the immediacy is compounded by a high degree of difficulty in finding viable solutions to these problems. In addition to having to cope with the tragedy of the personal loss caused by the death, the family must also cope immediately with the problems that life presents to the living in all of its mundane aspects and needs. For instance, the family's need for food, shelter, clothing, etc., exists in the same degree on the day after the decedent's death as it did on the day before his death. Yet, often the ability to provide for these needs is severely hampered or even eliminated by the very same factor that caused the problem-the decedent's death. Some of the economic problems that will be presented to the decedent's family might be classified as immediate, short-term problems that will be faced during the temporary period that the decedent's estate will be involved in the probate or administration process, which will typically be one year or less. However, there will also be other economic problems presented to the decedent's family that must be classified as future, long-term problems that will be faced by the family when the probate or administration process has been completed and life begins to settle down into some sort of continuing pattern.
J. R. Johnson,
Support of the Surviving Spouse and Minor Children in Virginia: Proposed Legislation v. Present Law,
U. Rich. L. Rev.
Available at: http://scholarship.richmond.edu/lawreview/vol14/iss4/2