Divorce and the Last Will and Testament

When your divorce becomes final, any provision in your last will and testament that affects your spouse becomes null and void as though your spouse died at the time of divorce. This has been a provision of Florida law for some time. If you have a will that designates your spouse as your main beneficiary or as your personal representative (executor), this means that the designation is void. Your property would go to your alternate beneficiary or beneficiaries and the person you designated as the alternate personal representative will be in charge of your estate.

In 2012, the law was changed to include non-probate assets. These are assets that pass outside of your estate. They include things like life insurance benefits and retirement accounts. If you designated your spouse as your primary beneficiary under any of these, the new law provides that the designation is void and the asset will go to your alternate beneficiaries. However, some retirement accounts may be subject to federal laws that will negate the effect of this new Florida law.

You should be aware that these laws only apply once the court enters the final judgment of dissolution of marriage. If you have questions about whether you should make changes to your last will and testament before your divorce becomes final, you should ask your family law attorney.