Why You Need to Update Your Estate Plan During Your Divorce

No matter how amicable your divorce is, make no mistake: it IS a major life event. In many ways, it is the death of your previous life to pave the way for your new life. Necessary as divorce may be, it can still be overwhelming for many spouses. During this difficult time, it’s completely understandable for some things to slip through the cracks. One of these items is estate planning. 

First, some good news: even if something were to happen to you after your divorce but before you got around to updating your estate plan, your ex-spouse would still not be able to inherit under Florida law. So, even though your Last Will and Testament might have still had everything going to your (now-ex) spouse, he or she would not get that bequest. The same goes for other estate planning documents that have beneficiaries, like payable-on-death bank accounts, life insurance plans, and health care powers of attorney. However, these laws don’t take care of everything. 

If Your Ex Doesn’t Inherit, Who Will? 

Once your divorce is finalized, your estate plan now has a lot of holes. Whatever your ex-spouse was getting before your divorce should be going to different people now. If you don’t revise your documents accordingly, Florida intestacy laws dictate where your property and assets go. Your estate could end up going to your minor children, who might squander their inheritances once they turn 18. You should also look over your health care power of attorney again; if you didn’t name an alternate agent (to take over after your spouse), you should promptly name one. 

Name a New Personal Representative

In your Will, you can name an executor (sometimes called a “personal representative”) to wind up your estate after you pass away. When you were married, your spouse was probably the executor of your estate. For obvious reasons, it’s smart to name another executor once you file for divorce. If you or your spouse made living trusts for your kids, either of you should consider naming a third party as trustee. 

Act Quickly!

Generally, your spouse will only be removed from your estate plan by law once your divorce is finalized. If you were to pass away while the divorce is ongoing, your spouse might still play a large role in the disposition of your estate. For that reason and many others, it’s smart to revisit your estate plan soon after you file for divorce (or even before). 

In these situations, it helps to have an attorney who is experienced in both family law and estate planning matters. Our legal team is well-versed in both, which makes us uniquely qualified to help divorcing spouses make an estate plan that works for them. Need some legal help? Call us at 305-227-4030 to get started.