Changing Beneficiaries in a Divorce

Alan R. Burton Attorney at Law

When you get married, it makes sense to name your spouse as the beneficiary of various financial accounts and insurance policies. Even if you have children, you likely trust that your spouse will use the proceeds of your accounts to their benefit. In the event of a divorce, it is highly important that you revisit all of these accounts and change the beneficiaries to someone other than your former spouse. The following should be addressed when changing beneficiaries:

  • Life insurance policies
  • Bank accounts
  • Investment accounts
  • Retirement accounts

To make sure you do not forget to change an account, you should have an experienced attorney take inventory of all of your accounts and policies.

Consequences of Failing to Change a Beneficiary

If you fail to change a named beneficiary before you pass away, your former spouse may inherit the proceeds of your accounts, which you likely would not want. In addition, your children will not have a right to these funds being used for their benefit. This is especially important if your children are from a previous relationship and your former spouse has no legal parental obligations to support them. If your children wish to challenge the inheritance of your former spouse, it may require a costly legal battle.

Some people may believe that stating in their last will and testament that their former spouse is not a beneficiary will cover the bases for all of their accounts. However, this is not always the case as many designations for beneficiaries supersede the provisions of your will.

Florida Laws Regarding Beneficiaries

In 2012, Florida legislators did pass a law addressing beneficiary designations of ex-spouses. The law refers to life insurance policies, IRAs, employer benefit plans, securities, and pay-on-death accounts. The dissolution of a marriage effectively voids the designation of the former spouse as the beneficiary for such accounts. An insurance company or other type of payor can examine the marital status of the deceased person as well as the relationship between the deceased person and the beneficiary and, if they have been divorced, they can pay the benefits to a named secondary beneficiary.

Though Florida’s law does provide some protections in the event that a divorced person fails to change their beneficiaries, the law does have many exceptions. It is still always important to change your beneficiaries and not rely on the law to protect the interests of your children or other heirs.

An Experienced Boca Raton Family Law Attorney Can Help You

There are many different tasks that are important throughout the divorce process that you may not be aware of. Fortunately, an experienced divorce attorney will be familiar with all of the steps that need to be taken and will make sure that no important detail is forgotten. This will ensure that you are in the best position possible for your future and your family. At the law office of divorce lawyer Alan R. Burton, we carefully and thoroughly evaluate the needs of every client to provide the highest quality of representation. Please call our office at 954-229-1660 for a free consultation.

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