Tag Archive for: Estate

Assets at Death

Divorce and the disposition of assets at death

With the number of people getting divorced increasing, and the number of older “baby boomers” divorcing and/or dying, the Florida Legislature altered Florida Statute §732.703(2) relating to the effects of divorce on the disposition of assets at death. The Statute states:

“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. An individual retirement account described in §408 or §408A of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, or an employee benefit plan, may not be treated as a trust for purposes of this section.”
Fighting over money
In reality, once the marriage is dissolved, and a Final Judgment of Dissolution is filed with the Court, any asset transfer or payment as listed in Florida Statute §732.703 (i.e. life insurance policies, POD accounts, retirement accounts) becomes a nullity and is not valid. However, after a dissolution it is still very important to change the beneficiaries to those assets (obviously, if those are assets not distributed to the former spouse). If the beneficiary to a policy is not changed after a dissolution, the “payor” may still submit payment to the former spouse after death. This means the current beneficiaries (most often children or the current spouse) would then have to file a lawsuit against the former spouse and/or the asset manager (retirement company/insurer/etc.) to recover those assets transferred to the former spouse. A failure to timely change beneficiaries to those assets after a dissolution could cause delay, expense, and frustration for grieving families.