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How Can I Disinherit My Ex?

The advent of no-fault divorces in the 1970's caused the divorce rate in the United States to increase significantly and stay high. Today, it hovers around 50 percent. And in fact, some experts believe that changes in society and law in the near future will cause the divorce rate to increase at an even faster pace.

Upon divorce, many people want to disinherit their former spouses - that is, make sure the ex-spouse receives nothing in the event of one's death. A common misconception is that individuals can disinherit their spouse simply by writing them off your trust or will. The truth is that the process of disinheriting a spouse is difficult in most states, particularly Florida. Therefore, if you're getting divorced - and, more crucially still, if you're getting remarried - it is important that you update your estate plan appropriately.

In Florida, disinheritance is especially complex

In Florida, even if you are separated, your surviving spouse is permitted to 30 percent of your estate in the event of your death. Known as an elective share, this portion of your estate consists of an extensive list of property and assets, which are listed in Florida Statute 732.2035. This law was passed to prevent situations in which the surviving spouse is left with nothing. As our state has somewhat stringent regulations when it comes to disinheriting, it is likely that you will need a skilled attorney to navigate the process.

Likewise, a common mistake individuals make is the failure to re-designate the beneficiaries on their retirement accounts and life insurance policies. Even if the spouse's name is removed from one's will, he or she will receive benefits unless their name is removed from the plans themselves. In other words, the beneficiary trumps the will.

Passivity doesn't pay. (Or rather, it only pays your former spouse.)

Disinheritance is an active process. You cannot cut people out of your estate plan simply on a whim. Rather, doing so requires careful consideration and ongoing attention. And, in most cases, working with an experienced professional is key to ensuring that your loved ones receive what you want them to, and your former loved ones don't.

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