Spouses should know Florida Statutes automatically revokes certain will provisions upon a final judgment of dissolution or annulment. Florida’s automatic revocation on divorce statute section 732.507(2), Florida Statutes may void provisions of a will that “affect” a former spouse.
After a Florida divorce, courts must administer and construe wills as if the former spouse had died at the time of the divorce. That’s true unless the will or the dissolution or divorce judgment expressly provides otherwise.
Invalidated Will Provisions – Carroll v. Israelson
The court in Carroll v. Israelson applied the automatic revocation on divorce statute. It invalidated provisions of a will establishing trusts upon the decedent’s death to benefit his former wife’s relatives, because such provisions “affected” her. See Carroll v. Israelson, 169 So. 3d 239 (Fla. 4th DCA 2015) (followed in Galazka v. Estate of Perkins, 184 So. 3d 635 (Fla. 4th DCA 2016)).
Even when attorneys advise clients to update their estate plans, the court observed, people resist thinking about their own mortality. They often procrastinate post-divorce estate planning.
Section 732.507(2), Florida Statutes: Automatic Revocation on Divorce of Will Provisions that Affect an Ex
But the automatic revocation on divorce statute, section 732.507(2), Florida Statutes, protects an ex who procrastinated and didn’t update a will. The statute voids on entry of a final judgment of dissolution or annulment any provision of a will a married person made that “affects” a former spouse.
Read “affects” broadly, as the Carroll court did. For a provision to “affect” a former spouse, the provision need not have a direct financial benefit on the former spouse. The statute does not revoke provisions of a will executed by a single person; it applies only when the marriage predates the will. In Gordon v. Fishman, 253 So. 3d 1218 (Fla. 2d DCA 2018), a man did not marry his fiancée he designated in his will as beneficiary until 15 months after he signed it. Their later divorce did not invalidate the beneficiary designation under 732.507(2), Florida Statutes.
Carroll held the date of dissolution or annulment triggers the statute. The statute won’t allow “post-death legal gymnastics to manipulate the issue of whether a will provision ‘affects’ the former spouse.”
Exceptions to Automatic Revocation on Divorce of Will Provisions
Exceptions to automatic revocation on divorce of will provisions include:
- A specific post-divorce designation of a former spouse in a will or trust as an irrevocable beneficiary; and
- An obligation in a final judgment to make the former spouse an irrevocable beneficiary.
By updating beneficiary designations in wills and other instruments upon divorce or annulment, parties may avoid leaving their survivors costly, acrimonious, drawn out litigation.
In Collaborative Divorce, to overcome automatic revocation on divorce, spouses may harness their power to contract and reach creative agreements about beneficiary desigations. For more information, contact Michael P. Sampson today.
Read how Collaborative Marital Settlement Agreements May Handle Automatic Revocation on Divorce of Insurance Beneficiary Designations.
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