Do I Need to Revise My Estate Plan After a Divorce?
Estate planning entails preparing for what will happen to your property after you pass away, planning for your own care, preserving assets, and much more. Naturally, divorce can have a significant impact on your estate plan. Failing to update your plan can result in unintended consequences and the distribution of your assets. It is important to work with an experienced attorney to review and update your estate plan after a divorce.
What Do You Need to Update?
Any element of your estate plan that involves your former spouse will need to be revised if you no longer wish for them to be included in the plan. This means updating the following documents if your former spouse is listed in them:
- Beneficiary Designations
- Powers of Attorney
- Designation of Health Care Surrogate
- Living Will Declaration
What Happens if You Do Not Update Your Estate Plan?
Let’s say you get divorced, do not update your estate plan, and then pass away. Florida law states that any provision of a will that affects the former spouse is void upon the dissolution of the marriage. In other words, the will is treated as though the former spouse died at the time of the divorce when interpreting the estate plan and wishes of the decedent. There are exceptions if the decedent specifically intended to keep the former spouse in the will or the divorce documents state otherwise. Similarly, state law has the same rules for a trust - any provision affecting the former spouse will become void upon annulment or dissolution of the marriage.
If the Law Voids the Former Spouse From the Estate Plan, Then Why Should I Update the Estate Plan?
One reason is that you want to make certain the right persons are in charge of managing your affairs. For example, if your spouse is no longer your agent under power of attorney pursuant to the divorce, you will want to designate another individual you trust to make financial and legal decisions for you.
Even if your power of attorney document names persons to serve subsequent to the spouse, the next person listed in the document will need to produce copies of the divorce proceedings to satisfy a third party (like a bank) that the spouse is no longer eligible to serve. This creates additional burdens for your loved ones in an already difficult and stressful time. The most efficient way to avoid this additional hassle is to create a new power of attorney document.
For these reasons and more, it is crucial to update your estate plan after a divorce with a qualified and experienced attorney to protect your assets and goals.
Kruse Law Can Help
Kruse Law gives you the confidence you need when life gets complicated. You never know when something might happen, and it is never too early to begin planning. Attorney Denyse Kruse is ready to provide you with personalized attention to achieve the result you want. Call 727-256-4860 today to get started.