Just Divorced? Time to Re-Visit That Will, Insurance Policy, Payable-on-Death Account, Etc.

A recent New York Law Journal article dove deep into the subject of the effect of divorce on inheritances under a will or trust made before the divorce.

Generally speaking, New York law disregards gifts left to a spouse under the terms of a will where the designated recipient is divorced from the the other spouse after their will is made.

The article surveyed several unusual cases with unusual facts, and how current New York law applies.

Florida enacted statutes of its own addressing these issues even more recently. With certain exceptions, the Florida statutes similarly disinherit a subsequently divorced spouse, whether the inheritance would have been by way of a will or a non-probate will alternative.

The example cases should drive home the point that divorce, like marriage, is a time to take a fresh look at your will and also your will alternatives, such as trusts, insurance policies, payable-on-death and joint accounts, etc., and update them in light of changed circumstances.


  1. this New York Law Journal article: Clarifying When and Whether Divorce Revokes Bequests
  2. these Florida statutes excerpts:

732.507 Effect of subsequent marriage, birth, adoption, or dissolution of marriage.—

“(2) Any provision of a will executed by a married person that affects the spouse of that person shall become void upon the divorce of that person or upon the dissolution or annulment of the marriage. After the dissolution, divorce, or annulment, the will shall be administered and construed as if the former spouse had died at the time of the dissolution, divorce, or annulment of the marriage, unless the will or the dissolution or divorce judgment expressly provides otherwise.”


732.703 Effect of divorce, dissolution, or invalidity of marriage on disposition of certain assets at death.—

“(2) A designation made by or on behalf of the decedent providing for the payment or transfer at death of an interest in an asset to or for the benefit of the decedent’s former spouse is void as of the time the decedent’s marriage was judicially dissolved or declared invalid by court order prior to the decedent’s death, if the designation was made prior to the dissolution or court order. The decedent’s interest in the asset shall pass as if the decedent’s former spouse predeceased the decedent.”