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Property Division & Complex Estate Planning

Most-everyone has heard of a prenuptial agreement, and, of course, that during divorce, property division must be dealt with. However, many people do not realize that many divorcing spouses enter into what’s called a property (or “marital”) settlement agreement, whereby they agree and stipulate exactly how that property will be divided. While many people focus on the more obvious property in these types of agreements, not enough arguably also take into account estate planning, specifically, in drafting these documents.

For example, if a couple has children together and the settlement agreement addresses the potential death of one spouse by naming the other spouse as their life insurance beneficiary in an effort to provide for that child in the event of death, it is possible that those life insurance funds actually won’t end up being used to support the couple’s child. It would be preferable, for example, to have the couple’s child be the named beneficiary on the life insurance so that the courts maintain oversight until the child reaches the age of majority. This way, there is less discretion involved because one parent has not been set up as a trustee for the child.

Planning For Your Children

Another option is setting up a revocable living trust for the child, which would specify exactly how the funds would have to be handled, including in potentially unforeseen circumstances, such as the death of both the trustee and beneficiary.

A family law attorney who understands the ins and outs of complex estate planning will be better able to plan for circumstances that may be unforeseeable in the here and now. For example, what if one spouse has set up an irrevocable life insurance trust, but gets married and divorced again, a second time? How can they ensure that the proper beneficiary receives the funds intended after that second marriage and divorce? There would still be a property settlement agreement; however, adjustments could also still be made to the estate plan after the divorce.

What Does This Look Like In Florida?

In Florida, a marital settlement agreement for dissolution of marriage with property but no dependent or minor child(ren) looks different than if there are children involved. Such forms typically specify, at a minimum:

  • The dates of marriage;
  • A statement to the effect of, due to irreconcilable differences in the marriage, this agreement to settle what is owed to each other (honestly) is included;
  • That each spouse has filed a Family Law Financial Affidavit, Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure Form, voluntarily, in full and fair disclosure, waiving any further disclosure; and
  • That each spouse agrees to execute and exchange any papers that might be needed to complete this agreement, such as title certificates, deeds, etc.

Contact Us for Help

If you are going through divorce, it is crucial that your property interests are protected. This can only be accomplished by someone who has the right experience. At the office of Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. in Fort Lauderdale, every day we represent divorcees in southeast Florida who are seeking to protect their property interests while also building in some estate planning. Contact us today; we will ensure that your financial future is secure.

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