It has recently been reported that Richard Williams, father of Serena and Venus Williams, is alleging his estranged wife either forged his signature, or, in the alternative, that he was not mentally capable of understanding what he was signing in a document that turns ownership of his Florida home to his estranged wife exclusively. Of course, in every divorce case, there are far more facts than those reflected in court filings. While the facts of that case will play out in a Palm Beach, Florida courtroom over the coming weeks and months, the mere allegation offers a cautionary tale for people getting divorced.
See a Lawyer When You Separate
Florida has a waiting period for most couples planning to divorce. Even for couples not restricted by the waiting period, divorce takes time. One option couples can explore is a post nuptial agreement. This agreement can address alimony, child support, child custody, and division of property prior to the completion of the divorce. A lawyer can also advise you on various areas of vulnerability, such as a joint checking account, which could be subject to the actions of a single person.
Update Your Health Care Documents
Unless you actually want your estranged spouse to have the power to make decisions about your ongoing health care and the like, make certain to update your power of attorney and health care directives. If you do not currently have a health care directive or power of attorney, now is the time to get these documents. As long as you are legally married to your spouse, even if you are not living together and are planning on a divorce, your spouse will make relevant decisions as any spouse would unless you have taken steps to assign these responsibilities to another.
Change Your Beneficiaries
If you no longer wish to have your spouse inherit your life insurance policy, you need to make this known to the life insurance company. Changing your life insurance beneficiary is not difficult, but it does require some time and attention to details. Your life insurance company has a policy about how to change the beneficiary, and this policy must be followed. Also consider your “pay on death” beneficiary on any personal checking or savings accounts. Most people designate their spouse on these accounts. If you want to change that in light of the pending divorce, you must be proactive with your bank.
Review Your Will
If you do not have a will, now is the time to get one. If you do have a will, take a moment to review it. Do you wish for it to stand as is? Or would you prefer to revise your will, designating new beneficiaries? Either approach is fine. However, a failure to consider the options will guarantee your spouse will inherit as detailed in your current will, or as called for by Florida law. This remains true until your divorce is final.
If you are considering divorce, contact Eric C. Cheshire, P.A. We understand Florida divorce law, as well as the laws of unintended consequences. We can help you review your situation to make certain you and your loved ones are protected as your West Palm Beach divorce progresses. Call us today at (561) 677-8090.