Will an Ex Inherit Life Insurance?

Many times when people get divorced, part of the divorce settlement or order has to do with dividing up property and assets so that there is little grey area dividing which belongs to which spouse. However, it is quite common for some things to be overlooked when hammering out the details of the divorce and when also making later estate plans with a Miami estate attorney. One of the main things that gets overlooked is when a spouse is made a beneficiary of a life insurance policy, retirement account or other pay upon death account where it is totally forgotten that the ex-spouse was even named the beneficiary in the first place.

Up until very recently, this presented a problem for estates of divorced individuals in Florida when it came to inheritance. Later spouses or children would find themselves left out of large insurance policies or other accounts that may have been taken out by the decedent to provide for their loved ones after death, instead having those funds go to a person that the decedent may have been divorced from for decades. As far as the Florida courts were concerned, if the decedent failed to change the beneficiary designation on a life insurance policy or other such account, there was little that could be done. This is still the law in many states.

The changed in 2012, when a new law was passed in Florida, that once a couple got divorced, if the ex spouse was the beneficiary on a pay upon death account, that beneficiary designation would be cancelled. Under the new law, the payout from life insurance would go to any secondary beneficiary. If for some reason there is no secondary beneficiary, as in the case of the secondary beneficiary predeceasing the decedent or there was no designation in the first place, the proceeds would most likely go to the estate.

This does not eliminate all instances where a divorced spouse may be entitled to inherit property from a decedent, however. There are some very specific exceptions to this rule. This includes when the spouses were the joint owners with a right of survivorship on property, if the spouses ended up remarrying again before the decedent’s death and remained married until he or she died, if the surviving ex-spouse was made a beneficiary after the divorce for some reason, if the beneficiary designation was irrevocable or if in the divorce decree the decedent was required to maintain the pay upon death account.

Even with the new law in place, you should contact a Miami estate lawyer to come up with a usable estate plan whenever you have assets, especially when you are divorced or have pay upon death accounts such as a life insurance policy. Estate planning does not involve drafting a will alone, but can also involve what will happen with life insurance policies and other such accounts after you die. It is always wise to keep the beneficiary designation up to date on such policies and accounts and to review the paperwork for these policies periodically to be sure that the beneficiary is still who you would like it to be.

If you are in a situation where an ex-spouse of a decedent is on a life insurance policy, call the Law Offices of Albert Gurevich at (786) 522-1411.