There’s a new law here in Florida that people need to know about – especially if they are divorced or in the midst of getting themselves divorced here in Florida and that law is Florida Statute 732.703. You can read the law as written on the books by the Florida Legislature online here.
The important language of this statute for divorced people and those divorcing here in Florida is the last section of the new law, where it states:
Why should divorcees in Florida care about the new Florida law? Florida Statute 732.703 can wipe out your choice in beneficiaries.
How? This new law provides that anyone who dies on or after July 1, 2012, and had made beneficiary designations to his or her ex-spouse before their marriage was legally ended (dissolved), then that beneficiary designation is considered invalid. Doesn’t have any legal validity now that the new law has been passed.
Which means that lots of assets can be impacted here: things like life insurance policies along with IRAs (individual retirement accounts), annuities, and pensions.
Larry Tolchinsky’s Tip:
So what does this mean? Let’s consider this scenario:
Ken and Barbara get married in Miami and have a couple of kids but over time, things go south and Ken and Barbara decide to divorce. They and their lawyers work out a deal and part of that deal is going through all their end of life planning documents.
Their estate planning lawyer has his input here, and it’s decided that the best thing for them financially is to leave Barbara as Ken’s beneficiary on his life insurance policy as well as on his pension plan. So they do.
The divorce documentation doesn’t address any requirement that Ken maintain the life insurance policy, it’s silent on the insurance – but it’s an amicable divorce and Barbara knows Ken will keep those premiums up. And he does.
Then, last week, Ken is killed in a bizarre alligator wrestling incident and Barbara, while sad for her children and the loss of their father, feels financially okey-dokey because Ken had that life insurance policy in place. Except now, the new Florida Statute 732.703 may act to erase that beneficiary designation in the life insurance policy despite what Ken wanted. And what Barbara needs right now to take care of the kids and their future.
The person that Ken named as secondary beneficiary on the policy will get the money now – if he named one. The law will look on the life insurance policy distribution of proceeds just the same now as it would if Barbara had died before Ken and the money had to be distributed with both Ken and Barbara having passed away.
Which means that after Florida Statute 732.703, Barbara’s got a fight on her hands.
End of life planning is important and changing Florida laws mean that no one can set back and assume that if they have done their estate planning, then everything is set for life. It’s not. It’s important to review your end of life planning with your Florida estate planning attorney every so often to insure that things are going to happen the way that you have planned for them to occur. (Hint for Ken and Barbara: trusts or re-designate after the divorce).
Do you have questions or comments? Then please feel free to Chat with Larry in the comments below, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or (954) 458-8655. If you have a specific situation, please call or email Larry because he can’t answer specific fact questions in general comments. He’s happy to take your call.