estate planning after divorce
What’s the Effect of Divorce on Estate Planning?

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.

There are still situations in which an ex-spouse can inherit property that was not intended for them.