a legal separation is a court decree recognizing that a married couple is living apart and regulating the couple's mutual rights and liabilities. The most important factors are that the couple is still married, can still hold their real property as tenants by the entirety (if one dies the property automatically belongs to the survivor), may each have the right to make medical or funeral decisions for the other, and each will be the surviving spouse of the other for purposes of inheritance. If one dies the other will inherit as the surviving spouse. A divorce changes a couple's legal status in relationship to one another. Their marriage is legally dissolved. Once the decree has been entered each party relinquishes any future claims against the other or their estate except for matters related to child support. If the couple owns real property the tenancy is reduced to a tenancy in common. That means if one dies their half interest passes to their heirs at law under the state laws of intestacy or under the terms if their will. A former spouse has no rights of inheritance.