Finally: Beneficiary Designations of Other Spouse (Generally) Voided Upon Divorce

Husband and Wife accumulate various financial accounts.

Each makes their accounts payable to the other in the event of their death.

Their wills designate each other as their respective primary beneficiary.

Then Husband’s and Wife’s marriage suddenly falls apart.

They divorce. Final judgment is entered.

Husband dies.

Neither had a chance to update their wills or account beneficiary designations.

Does Wife inherit under Husband’s will and payable on death accounts?

Until recently, the answer would have been: yes.

This generally surprises people, who just assume it is otherwise.

Florida’s legislature agrees though and has just changed Florida law to void many (but not all) types of inheritances by an ex spouse.

One key section voids any provision in a will that mentions the ex-spouse, unless the will or divorce final judgment provides otherwise.

This section protects divorced former spouses from any oversight in updating their intended inheritance beneficiaries.

But also allows for the possibility that someone may wish for their ex to inherit from them, even after divorce, and will honor such a bequest or beneficiary designation made after their divorce. The law also recognizes that this type of inheritance may be used as a tool in a property division.

Another new section of the Florida statutes voids any gift in a will or beneficiary designation to an ex-spouse which is made after the divorce is final.

This applies to most financial accounts, life insurance, annuities, employee benefit plans, retirement accounts, payable on death accounts and securities accounts.

With some exceptions.

Such as where:

  • federal law applies and provides otherwise

  • the beneficiary designation is made after the divorce

  • the beneficiary is a will or trust

  • the final judgment requires the ex to manage the asset for their children

  • the ex could not legally terminate the beneficiary designation

  • the exes remarry

Read more in this Florida statutes, section 732,507 Effect of subsequent marriage, birth, adoption, or dissolution of marriage and this Florida statute, section 732.703 Effect of divorce, dissolution, or invalidity of marriage on disposition of certain assets at death.