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If I Get Divorced In Pasco County, Florida, Is My Ex Entitled To My 401(k) & Life Insurance When I Die?

This issue of what an ex-spouse receives from life insurance, 401k’s, and other assets with beneficiary designations can be a touchy subject in a divorce.

There are many, many instances throughout Florida and the U.S. in which a couple got divorced, one spouse did not change his or her life insurance or retirement plan beneficiary, and passed away, and the ex-spouse received a chunk of money that the deceased almost certainly did not want him or her to have.

What should happen in a divorce is that the spouses come to some type of agreement about property division, either by mutual consent or through a decision of the court. The court may order one spouse to maintain a life insurance policy on his or her life for the benefit of the other spouse.

The court may also order the retirement plans divided in a divorce. Once that occurs, ideally the spouses will change the beneficiaries on their other assets to whomever they want to get the money, which is probably not the ex.

Fortunately, there has recently been a change in Florida law on this issue. Now, if an ex-spouse is named the beneficiary on certain types of covered assets, those assets will pass as if the former spouse passed away first, meaning that the asset would either pass to the contingent beneficiaries or the deceased’s estate.

Covered assets include life insurance policies, annuities, employee benefit plans, IRAs, payable-on-death accounts, and securities registered in a transfer-on-death form. Before this law change, those assets would have passed to the former spouse if the beneficiary form was not changed.

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