Going through a divorce requires you to think about a lot of issues you probably haven’t before, and didn’t necessarily want to. Child support, alimony and property division commonly come up during the process and you’ll likely become familiar with them. But there are some things that happen automatically, no matter what you do, and it’s important you’re aware of them so you can take action if you need to.
Revocation upon divorce
Florida Statute Section 732.703 describes the concept of revocation upon divorce – it is a law which anticipates that there are certain things a divorcing spouse would want to occur, but may not think of them. So it automatically does those things as a matter of law. It’s common for a married person to make their spouse the beneficiary for a number of benefits, upon their death, and it is this beneficiary status which the law impacts.
Take a will, for example. One spouse may create a will and name the other spouse as the beneficiary for all or some of their assets. Revocation upon divorce terminates that beneficiary designation as soon as the divorce is final. It doesn’t invalidate the will; instead, it creates a legal fiction which pretends the beneficiary spouse had pre-deceased the spouse who made the will. As such, the will is executed as though the ex-spouse is no longer alive.
Wills are not the only type of instrument affected. Life insurance policies, IRA’s, employee benefit plans and others are affected by revocation upon divorce. In some cases, you may want your ex-spouse to retain their beneficiary status in spite of the statute. If this is true, you can either handle it during the divorce process, so that your wishes become part of the divorce decree, or re-execute the affected instrument after the divorce is final. Both options will negate the automatic nature of revocation upon divorce.