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How Does a Florida Divorce Affect Your Estate Plan?

Divorce can affect many aspects of your life, including your estate plan. After your divorce concludes, you may not have the same assets or wishes and will likely need to update your estate planning documents. However, what would happen if either spouse died during or after the divorce without having had the opportunity to update their estate plan?

  • During the divorce. If a party dies while their divorce is pending and does not have a will, their surviving spouse will inherit the estate based on intestate succession laws. However, if the decedent did have a will, their spouse can still inherit based on the decedent’s will.
  • After the divorce. Under Florida Statute § 732.507, provisions of a will that were executed by a married person that affects their spouse become void once they dissolve or annul their marriage. The provisions in favor of the divorced spouse will be treated as if the surviving ex-spouse actually predeceased the other party. Thus, if you still want your ex-partner to receive certain assets after your death, you will need to update your will.

Estate Planning Checklist for Divorced Couples

In light of your divorce, you should consider updating certain estate planning documents. Just as your relationship has changed with your ex (and their side of the family), your estate plan should change to reflect the shift in your life and relationships.Here are some documents that should likely be updated before or after your divorce.

  • Powers of attorney and advanced directives. If you have a healthcare incident during your divorce, you may no longer want your spouse or in-laws to be the named party in your durable power of attorney or healthcare power of attorney; you may also have different wishes concerning your living will, which outlines your wishes if you were in a coma or vegetative state.
  • Your will. What you have previously drafted may no longer accurately reflect the assets you have or your wishes. You should consider revising guardianship decisions, executors, and the division of assets.
  • Trusts. If you have a trust for your children or a living trust for yourself, you may want to revise your trust. You may have previously named your ex-spouse as the trustee, but do you still want them to control the assets or money in trust? It is also important to consult with your divorce attorney concerning your trusts; trusts may be subject to division if they contain marital property or name both parties as beneficiaries.
  • Retirement, payable-on-death, and other accounts. When you set up your retirement, bank, life insurance, and investment accounts, you can name a beneficiary who will receive the assets if you pass away. To learn who you named as a beneficiary, you may need to contact the institution directly or review your account online. While many assets and accounts automatically nullify an ex-spouse’s interest, you should still revise these designations.

It is important to note that certain documents and accounts may have to be updated after the divorce is finalized. You should consult with an attorney concerning what can and cannot be altered until the divorce is final before making any changes.

Get Legal Help

At Dale L. Bernstein, Chartered Law Office, our firm is equipped to help clients understand the effects that divorce can have on your estate plan. Our attorney can also advise you on how to protect certain assets, your children’s inheritance, and other important properties. With over 35 years of experience, Attorney Bernstein offers clients high-quality aggressive representation and can work tirelessly to help you:

  • Navigate the unique concerns of your divorce
  • Understand your legal options and make informed decisions
  • Understand how your divorce affects your financial future, taxes, and other aspects of your life
  • Protect your interests
  • Feel heard, seen, and supported throughout the entire process

To schedule a case consultation, call (727) 312-1112 or complete our online contact form.

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