SB 1070: Potential Updates to Estate & Probate Law in Florida
What is SB 1070?
Senate Bill 1070 adds detail to the status of a will and estate after a marriage is dissolved due to divorce. It amends previous language of the Uniform Directed Trust Act. Prior law indicated that a testator’s will provisions affecting the testator’s spouse are void when the divorce or annulment is final. And, the will is then interpreted as if the testator’s spouse had died at the time of divorce. The new language revises the existing law to make the will provisions void “upon dissolution of the marriage”, regardless of whether the parties were married prior to or after execution of the will. This means it doesn’t matter if the original will was drafted in consideration of the parties’ marriage or with distributions earmarked for the now ex-spouse.
The new The Florida Legislature convenes each winter from January until March to propose new legislation, introduce bills and pass bills into law. Some legislative updates are simply revisions to existing laws, but sometimes a novel law is passed, changing business practices or regulations for the lives of many Floridians. For example, Senate Bill 1070, filed under Estates and Trusts, creates revisions to the “Florida Uniform Directed Trust Act.” The bill was introduced today in the Florida Senate by Senator Berman. If passed, the law would go into effect on July 1, 2021.
language also does not invalidate specific provisions providing for distribution of assets to the former spouse despite dissolution of the marriage, and establishes the relevant time period as to when the parties receive the final divorce judgment. If passed, the new language is applicable to descendants who pass away on or after July 1, 2021. The new language also doesn’t apply to will updates added after a divorce is final. For example, hypothetically a couple is married for 20 years then files and finalizes a divorce. If the decedent ex-husband drafts a will with provisions containing distribution of furnishings and jewelry to his ex-wife (that was not previously distributed to her during the divorce), the bill language does not make the decedent’s provisions to his ex-wife invalid.
The bill also expounds on the definition of homestead exemption status and appointing the trustee of an estate. Specifically, it changes bond requirements the court can impose during probate proceedings. It allows a probate officer to post bond for value of personal property in the estate, and also requires the court to vacate any other amounts in the depository.
If Senate Bill 1070 passes, it could have immediate implications for divorced couples and couples contemplating divorce. If a couple has an amicable post-divorce relationship or an ex-spouse wishes to provide for a co-parent of shared children in the event of his passing, he can do so without a challenge from his estate’s personal representative or the courts. It also provides guidance to couples considering divorce or enthralled in ongoing proceedings who are concerned about the validity of their will or confused about will updates once the divorce is final.
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If you or a loved one require assistance with estate and trust formation, or you need to re-evaluate your end-of-life planning needs after divorce or death in the family, contact our Tampa estate planning attorneys at Bubley & Bubley, P.A. We provide crucial guidance to families at all stages of life and gladly serve residents of Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties. Call our office today to schedule a consultation.