New Florida Law Simplifies Divorce and Beneficiary Conflicts

(Photo used with Creative Commons Permission from JD Hancock on Flickr)

In the past, divorcees who did not update beneficiary forms after the divorce (thereby leaving the former spouse’s name on the form)  created controversy for their trustees and executors when the ex-spouse attempted to claim assets where they were named beneficiary.

A new statute (S 732.703)  in Florida attempts to rectify this issue and the estate planning community seems to be pleased. From Leimburg Information Services (7/23/12):

“Effective July 1, 2012, a new Florida law takes effect concerning beneficiary designations on life insurance policies, annuities, IRAs, 401ks and other employee benefit plans.   The new statute clarifies that upon the entry of a final judgment of dissolution or annulment (herein referred to as “divorce”) a divorced ex-spouse is to be treated as predeceased for purposes of most non-probate assets, including employee benefit plans, IRAs, life insurance policies, transfer-on-death and pay-on-death accounts and qualified and non-qualified annuities of the other divorced spouse.”

What this means is that (for example) even if a divorcee leaves her ex-spouse’s name on her IRA beneficiary form as primary beneficiary, he will have no claim to her IRA at her death because the new law treats him as dead before her upon divorce.

Action Recommendation

Even though this clears up many problems with divorced people and estate planning, it is still recommended that if you are divorced (or even if you aren’t) you should consult an estate planning expert and make sure your legal planning is up to date and effective. And to make sure it truly follows your current wishes.

If you would like to discuss planning strategies, feel free to give us a call (781.393.0021) or send us a note by sending us a message through our contact form.

Note: we have clients in Florida and do spend time there. next visit will be in March 2013 – let us know if you live in FL and would like to meet to discuss financial planning ideas.