Divorce will change your life in ways few other things will. It can mark a fundamental shift in a person’s family structure. As such, it will come as no surprise that divorce can be a lot to handle and add to an already stretched to-do list. Well, there is one item that should be high ranking on that to-do list that you may have left out. Update your estate plan. We know, we know. Looking in on your estate plan is likely the last thing you want to do right now, but it is critical. An estate plan is, after all, most effective when it reflects your most current life circumstances. Failing to review your estate plan post-divorce can have some difficult, unintended consequences.
Post-Divorce Estate Plan Review
In many, if not most, states, getting divorce will trigger an automatic revocation of aspects of your will, such as revoking any gifts or bequests made in your will to your former spouse. This is done without affecting other established parts of your will. Florida Statutes Section 732.507(2) explicitly states that:
“Any provision of a will executed by a married person that affects the spouse of that person shall become void upon the divorce of that person or upon the dissolution or annulment of the marriage. After the dissolution, divorce, or annulment, the will shall be administered and construed as if the former spouse had died at the time of the dissolution, divorce, or annulment of the marriage, unless the will or the dissolution or divorce judgment expressly provides otherwise.”
While it may provide you with some consolation that any gift made to your former spouse in your will should be revoked automatically under Florida law, it is still best practice not to rely on state law for this sort of thing. Instead, it may be best to go review your estate plan and make changes accordingly to reflect your post-divorce wishes. After all, state laws can change. Additionally, this Florida law will not take effect until the issuance of the final divorce decree. This means that it will not change the terms of your will should you pass away in the midst of or during the divorce process.
Review your estate plan and make changes to your will accordingly. This should include changing designations as to who should inherit what, as it is likely that your former spouse or soon-to-be former spouse would inherit the bulk of your state pursuant to the terms of your will. Furthermore, you may have designated your former spouse as your personal representative. It is also likely that you will want to change this as well. Reflect on who you would want to serve, and who would be willing and able to serve, as personal representative of your estate in light of your change in circumstances. You will also want to consider updating any powers of attorney that name your former spouse as your agent.
You should also go through your assets to update your beneficiary designations. There are many significant assets, after all, that pass outside of a will. Many of these assets allow for beneficiary designations and it is likely that you designated your former spouse. Update beneficiary designations accordingly for things such as:
- Life insurance policies
- Pay-on-death accounts
- Transfer-on-death accounts
- IRAs, 401(k)s and other retirement accounts
Florida Estate Planning Attorney
Whether you need to update your estate plan or put one in place, Verras Law is here to help. Contact Verras Law today.