Legal Death Law and Legal Definition

Legal death refers to a situation where a person is considered dead under law. A person is usually considered legally dead after a legal pronouncement by a qualified person that further medical care is not appropriate. The specific criteria used to pronounce legal death are variable and often depend on the circumstances in order to pronounce a person legally dead. Brain death is an example of a scenario in which legal death is pronounced. In the U.S., brain death is legal in every state except the states of New York and New Jersey, where the law requires that a person's lungs and heart must also have stopped before it can be declared that a person is legally dead.