What happens when a married couple who has an existing estate plan in place is considering divorce? Estate planning after divorce:
- Florida law provides that divorce invalidates provisions in wills and trusts that benefit the ex-spouse.
- The law treats the ex-spouse as if they died at the time of the divorce.
- Unless you make changes in estate planning after divorce, the next heirs under those provisions will inherit those assets.
Florida law also applies the same treatment to “non-probate” assets or assets with beneficiary designations such as:
- life insurance policies,
- individual retirement accounts,
- 401(k)’s, and payable on death accounts.
A key point to notice is that same treatment does not apply to accounts titled as joint tenants with rights of survivorship. You must re-title these accounts with the financial institution if you are estate planning after divorce. Otherwise, the ex-spouse will still inherit those accounts.
Florida law automatically revokes Durable Powers of Attorney upon a divorce. However, Health Care Surrogate designations are not. An ex-spouse could end up making health care decisions, if you don’t correct the document.
As a general rule, clients should re-visit their estate planning after divorce in order to make the necessary corrections.