In most marriages, spouses designate each other as beneficiaries when they set up life insurance policies, employee benefit plans and a variety of financial accounts. However, when relationships turn sour, many individuals do not put those beneficiary designations at the top of their priority lists. Until recently, Florida law retained those provisions, even if a former spouse died long after the ink dried on the divorce decree. Recognizing that former spouses no longer intend to provide for each other after divorce, Florida laws changed in late 2012 to help invalidate many unintended beneficiary designations.
If you survive a spouse named in your will to inherit your assets, those assets generally pass to other beneficiaries when you die. In the case of divorce, Florida Statute 732.703 works essentially the same way, by invalidating the interests of the former spouse as of the date the marriage was dissolved or annulled. Still, keep in mind that many exceptions apply to this law, including but not limited to:
- Federal law has conflicting provisions.
- The beneficiary designation was executed after the divorce.
- A will or trust controls how the assets are distributed.
- The final divorce decree requires the beneficiary designation.
- The couple remarries at some point after their initial divorce.
Depending on the details of your unique circumstances, even a relatively amiable divorce can involve many legal and financial complexities, particularly when arranging a property settlement that carries no surprises down the road. You need support from a divorce attorney who can help you address many issues that you may not consider during a stressful, emotionally-charged period in your life.
Proper handling of the breakup of your marriage involves more than just a thorough knowledge of the Florida divorce laws. With extensive experience guiding clients through the divorce process and knowledge of estate planning and other financial issues, the law firm of Feldman & Schneiderman, P.L. takes a holistic approach to your divorce. We address a full array of issues to help our clients move toward new, successful lives after divorce.