Can You Leave Assets to Your Former Spouse?

Can You Leave Assets to Your Former Spouse?

Often, when couples divorce, they’re advised to update their estate plan as soon as possible—otherwise, their ex-spouse may inherit all or part of their estate. Not all divorces are contentious, however, and some people actually want to leave assets to their former spouse. For example, they may regard their ex fondly and want to make sure they always have a home to live in, or want to thank them for helping raise the family. Here’s what you need to know about the process.

Divorce and Florida estate planning law

Florida Statutes Section 732.507 states that “Any provision of a will that affects the testator’s spouse is void upon dissolution of the marriage of the testator and the spouse, whether the marriage occurred before or after the execution of such will. Upon dissolution of marriage, the will shall be construed as if the spouse died at the time of the dissolution of marriage.” In other words, if you divorced your ex in 2020, but die in 2040 with a will executed before the divorce, Florida courts will consider that portion of the will in relation to the ex-spouse void.

There is one exception, however: if your will or divorce/dissolution agreement specifically states that the ex-spouse shall inherit, the court will enforce your wishes.

If you did not include inheritance exceptions as part of the divorce settlement agreement, you will need to update your will after the divorce to reflect the new change in status. Keep in mind that subsequent marriages and children can still change how your estate is distributed, especially if you did not update your will prior to your death. That is why it is so important to talk to an estate planning attorney about your wishes. A lawyer can advise you on how to legally ensure your assets are distributed according to your instructions, whether through a will, trust or other method.

As always, make it a point to update your will after any big life change: marriage, divorce, children, death of a spouse.

The knowledgeable estate planning attorneys at Baumann Kangas Estate Law in Tampa, FL can help you update your will. Call today to get started.