Law Offices of Frye & Vazquez, P.L.
Call Today. 305-508-5749 | 877-421-5473

Does Florida estate law offer a safety net after divorce?

What happens to assets with designated beneficiaries after a divorce? The answer, in many cases, is nothing. Unfortunately, this is a common problem area in estate planning.

After a divorce, an individual may update his will to change bequests, but those statements generally affect only probate assets. Retirement or life insurance accounts are non-probate assets outside the domain of a will. As such, they used to operate under existing beneficiary designations, even if that means the proceeds will go to an outdated beneficiary, like a former spouse. 

However, Florida legislators have taken some action to avoid the injustice that can result from this easy estate-planning oversight. Pursuant to a 2012 state law, certain beneficiary designations are voided when a marriage is terminated by divorce or annulment. Notably, the law applies to insurance policies, IRAs, payable-on-death accounts, employee benefit plans, and qualified annuities.

However, the law is not an absolute safety net. It contains many exceptions, which is a good reason why individuals going through a divorce should also reach out to an estate-planning attorney. For example, the state law cannot void a beneficiary designation if it would conflict with federal law. Certain designations to a former spouse might also be irrevocable. Designations involving co-owners with right of survivorship might also require the adjudication of a court before the law could apply.

The goal of estate planning is a smooth and well-executed transfer of assets to loved ones. It can also help an individual plan for the unexpected, such as incapacity and the need for others to help with medical decision-making. The 2012 Florida state law may help avoid some injustices, but a proactive approach to estate planning remains the best strategy for ensuring an individual’s intentions are carried out. 

Source: The Ledger, “Plan Ahead on Estate to Avoid Probate,” Kevin Albaum, May 20, 2015


No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information

What Our Clients Are Saying

  • I have known and worked with Austin Frye and his team since 2008. In that time he has helped serve both my business and personal legal planning needs. From guidance on reviewing and keeping shareholder and state documentation up to date... - Robert
  • It is difficult enough to cope with the emotional challenges of closing a parent's estate, and when you are also faced with the issue of your parents having insufficient documentation, and being remote from your siblings… - Zara L.
  • Austin Frye provided legal services to my father while alive and to his estate after his death; when showing the EP docs his firm prepared to other professionals (lawyers, financial advisors, accountants)… - Mark S
  • I've been a client of Austin Frye's for over 10 years. In that time, he's handled my estate/trust planning and asset protection as well as complicated business deals. - Leslie
  • Mr. Frye recently set up a complicated special needs trust for my son and, as usual, did a great job explaining it and in putting our minds at ease about our son's future well-being. - Dr. Howard
  • Massachusetts Bar Association
  • The Florida Bar 1950
  • CFP
  • Florida Bar Elder Law Member
  • Academy Of Florida Elder Law Attorneys
  • Florida bar Business law Member
  • NAELA National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, Inc.
Email Us For a Response

Contact Us For Personal Attention To Your Legal Matter

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


Privacy Policy

Office Location

Get In Touch With Us
20900 W. Dixie Highway
Miami, FL 33180

Toll Free: 877-421-5473
Phone: 305-508-5749
Map & Directions