Every adult can benefit from smart estate planning and divorce may never happy. But when divorce does break up a marriage, taking the right estate planning steps is even more crucial.

Most married couples have an estate plan in place and it seems logical that they’d name each other as their personal representative during the marriage. However, if you don’t have an estate plan, you’re not alone, and now’s a good time to get one done.

Did you know that 62% of people do not have an estate plan? So, you’re not alone.

When Estate Planning and Divorce Intersect

But what happens if a separation or divorce is approaching and you’re not sure whether you want your spouse to be the chosen one to handle your financial and health care decisions? Or, maybe you’re wondering what will happen to the kids?

Most people believe, incorrectly, that a final divorce decree automatically invalidates all of the estate planning documents and beneficiary designation of both spouses. While Florida Statute, Section 732.702, was enacted to protect divorcees, so that the former spouse would not inadvertently be paid benefits, one must be careful.

Beneficiary or Personal Representative?

In Florida, if you don’t update your beneficiary designation on all of your accounts after your divorce, your former spouse will be voided as the beneficiary. While a divorce decree will invalidate the naming of your former spouse to be as the beneficiary under your will, state law frequently does not automatically remove a former spouse as the personal representative.

A personal representative is the person you name or nominate to handle your estate upon your death. Furthermore, state law does not remove your soon-to-be ex as power of attorney, advanced health care agent or as the named beneficiary of bank accounts, life insurance, and other similar contracts.

For example, if you fail to update the beneficiary after your divorce and the life insurance company pays out benefits, they will not be held liable for the mistaken payment.

Moral of the story: After you divorce, best practice is to update the beneficiary on ALL your accounts.

What needs to be reviewed, updated, or replaced?

The short answer is EVERYTHING! Your entire estate plan (legal and financial) needs to be re-visited as you embark on your life-changing event which includes, and this list is non-exhaustive:

  • Will
  • Revocable Living Trust
  • Health Care Power of Attorney
  • Financial Power of Attorney
  • Advance Health Care Directive
  • Deeds
  • Vehicles
  • Personal Property
  • Life Insurance Beneficiaries
  • Retirement Account Beneficiaries
  • Annuity Beneficiaries
  • Payable On Death Beneficiaries
  • Transfer On Death Beneficiaries
  • Online account users, passwords, contact emails, Facebook
  • Other asset titles
  • Communicate with your parents and/or other family members (where applicable) to review their own estate plans to confirm that any inheritance for you or your kids does not end up being distributed to your soon-to-be-ex-spouse.

Without further delay, contact us at Vázquez Law, PLLC, 305.440.1888 or email [email protected]. As your Divorce Legacy Lawyer, we can support you in getting your estate and legacy planning documents updated and/or created.

This article is a service of Vázquez Law, PLLC. We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That’s why we offer a PEACE Estate Planning Session, during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today at 305.440.1888 or visit our website: bvazquezlaw.com to get the process underway by scheduling a PEACE Estate Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge.

Disclaimer: I am not your lawyer unless you have paid me for legal advice and we have signed an agreement. I am a licensed attorney in the state of Florida. The information provided here is solely for educational purposes only, and not legal advice. You should absolutely consult with a lawyer before making any legal decision for yourself or your family.  If you do want to work with a lawyer, I strongly recommend considering a lawyer who has the heart of a counselor, and specific training on how to get families talking about hard subjects, with great ease.