Updating Your Will and Trusts When You Get Divorced
Planning for divorce in Florida requires extensive work. It is extremely important to work with an experienced Tampa divorce attorney on your case, and then most divorces require the parties to make extensive and complete lists of property to ensure that all marital and separate property is classified accurately so that it can be divided accordingly. In short, divorces require significant planning just to ensure that the process runs smoothly and that the divorce can be finalized. But it is important not to overlook certain issues when you are in the process of filing for divorce, such as updating your estate planning documents.
While you might not immediately think of divorce and estate planning as areas of the law that are connected to one another, divorce can have an enormous impact on your estate planning documents. There are many legal documents that are part of the estate planning process. We want to discuss the ways in which wills and trusts are affected by divorce under Florida law.
Revising Your Will
Under Florida law (Fla. Stat. § 732.507), any provision of a will executed by a married individual that affects their spouse will be voided upon divorce. Then, according to the statute, after the divorce the will shall be administered as if the former spouse had died at the time of the divorce unless the judgment expressly provides otherwise.
In other words, if you name your spouse in your will and later get divorced, the divorce means that any provision in your will affecting your former spouse will become void. In most cases, unless you specifically clarified otherwise, your will should be interpreted as if your ex-spouse died at the same time as you, meaning that any additional beneficiaries will become the one(s) to inherit your property.
For most people, however, it is easier simply to revise your will once you get divorced. Your family will not need to go through the trouble of having certain provisions of your will nullified or interpreted differently due to the divorce. Rather, you can revise the will and name new beneficiaries altogether.
Revising Beneficiaries to Trusts
If you have trusts set up, you should know that there is also a Florida statute in place (Fla. Stat. § 736.1105) that makes clear that, unless you expressly state otherwise, a spouse who is named as beneficiary to a revocable trust will not be eligible to remain as a beneficiary upon divorce. Instead, similar to the statute discussed above with regard to your will, the trust “shall be administered and construed as if the settlor’s spouse had died on the date of the annulment or on entry of the judgment for dissolution of marriage or divorce.”
Similar to the will, however, it may be easier to revise the beneficiaries to the trust.
Discuss Your Estate Planning Documents with a Florida Divorce Lawyer
Although there are provisions to exclude ex-spouses as beneficiaries to wills and trusts under Florida law, it is still important to discuss these documents with your Tampa divorce lawyer once your divorce is finalized. Contact Bubley & Bubley, P.A. to learn more about how we can help.