If you’re currently in a state of newlywedded bliss, this article might not be for you, as it is going to be a huge bummer. Let’s face it: the stats on marriage don’t look too great. The divorce rate is 44.2%. This means that if you know ten couples, four probably won’t make it. Some say that January is the most common month for divorces, while others say that it is July or August. Some even claim it is March (perhaps after Valentine’s Day’s pink-and-red haze wears off).

Whatever the month, there’s no denying that divorce is a real thing. In this article, we’re going to discuss divorce and its impact on your estate plan. If you feel, for whatever reason or inkling, that this information applies to you, read on. 

What Is Divorce? 

A divorce is the end of the legal contract known as marriage. When a court issues a divorce decree, that signals that your marriage is officially over in the eyes of the law. Divorce can take months, if not years, to finalize. According to experts, a breakdown of the marriage (arguing, lack of commitment, infidelity, etc.) is usually the biggest reason for a divorce. 

Divorce And Your Estate Plan 

Divorce might change your relationship with your ex, but it does not automatically take your ex-spouse off your estate plan as a beneficiary. Chances are, unless you saw a split coming from a mile away, your ex is in your estate plan as a beneficiary. If the divorce decree contains a stipulation to change your beneficiary designation, that’s one thing. If it contains no such clause, you’ll need to talk to an attorney. 

With a lawyer, revise powers of attorney, trusts, wills, and other documents with your ex-spouse in order to move forward. You don’t want to leave any stone unturned, and that is why it is important to sit down with a lawyer and go through your estate plan document by document. 

What Does The Law Say? 

In Florida, the law provides that a provision of a will that affects the ex-spouse of a married person is void upon divorce, annulment, or dissolution of the marriage. The divorce will not invalidate the entire will, though it does remove the spouse as a personal representative or beneficiary. It treats the spouse as though he or she has died and therefore cannot inherit or execute. 

Keeping this in mind, most lawyers agree that after a divorce, someone in Florida should not just rely on this law to cover them. Go through your estate plan and ensure that the documents officially have your ex-spouse removed. Neglecting this task will cause awkwardness at best. At worst, your ex-spouse might get a benefit from your estate when you really don’t want him or her to.

Protecting Assets From An Ex

Along this same line, you might be in a position where you want to protect assets from an ex. There are different financial tools that can help you with this, such as trusts, retirement accounts, and more. The bottom line is that divorce law and estate planning law often find themselves tied together. You don’t want to navigate this process without a lawyer. You might find yourself missing something important or getting an unfair shake from opposing counsel or the court. 

During the turbulent time of divorce, we understand that estate planning is likely the furthest thing from your mind. Some divorces are a terrible, heartbreaking tragedy. Others inspire less-negative emotions. No matter where you are on this spectrum, it’s important to contact WFP‘s legal counsel immediately to ensure your estate plan is updated after the marriage ends.