The Florida Legislature created a new law that affects the estate plan of individuals who are divorced.  If you have a client who is in the process of or, recently divorced you will definitely want to share the information in this article with them.

We look forward to continuing to collaborate with you and your clients to co-create solutions that achieve their goals and may create peace of mind.


We are your one stop shop for cutting edge elder law services. 

Warmest regards,
Stephanie L. Schneider, CELA  
Stephanie L. Schneider, PA

June Issue: New Law July 1st
Have You Checked Your Beneficiary Designations Since Your Divorce?
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Stephanie L. Schneider, PA Newsletter
Elder Law News Lawyers Can Use
April 2012

Have You Checked Your Beneficiary Designations Since Your Divorce? 

     Effective July 1, 2012, a new Florida law takes affect concerning beneficiary designations on employee benefit plans.  Under current law, when a divorced individual dies if their Last Will & Testament designates their former spouse as a beneficiary that provision is void. Even if a divorced individual dies without changing their Will the former spouse is treated as predeceasing the decedent.  However, if a divorced individual did not change their beneficiary designation under an employee benefit plan the law did not affect that asset.
     Now, if a beneficiary designation is made prior to the owner's death on an employee benefit plan the designation is void when the marriage is terminated. The new law also applies to:
1. life insurance policy, qualified annuity or similar tax deferred plan held within an employee benefit plan;
2. employee benefit plan;
3. individual retirement account;
4. pay-on-death account;
5. security or other account registered in a transfer on death form;
6. life insurance policy, qualified annuity or similar contract not held within an employee benefit plan.
      There are several exceptions to the new law most notably:
a. State administered retirement plans;
b. If the decedent remarries the individual whose interest would have been revoked;
c.  If the designation of the former spouse is irrevocable under law or, not permitted by the written document; or
d.  The assets is titled as co-owners where the death of one co-owner entitles the survivor to full ownership of the asset.
       Because of these exceptions we recommend that all individuals who are divorced take affirmative action to review their estate plan and the titling of their assets with us and create a comprehensive, new estate plan.

 "Proper Planning May Create Peace of Mind"
We are your and your clients' partner in the aging process.  Let us help you and your clients navigate the elder law maze!

Our Firm's Success Stories: Tales & Tips

Tale: Our firm was hired by the Personal Representative of a decedent's estate to complete the probate. Simultaneously, we were engaged to represent the son of one of the beneficiaries under the Will who was incapacitated due to a mental health issue. That beneficiary had previously received SSI and Medicaid benefits which had been lost due to the beneficiary not responding to the agencies. Upon reviewing the Last Will & Testament we learned that a trust had been created for the incapacitated beneficiary however it directed the trustee to distribute principal and income directly to the beneficiary. If the trust was administered in this manner the beneficiary would never re-qualify for SSI and Medicaid and the inheritance would be spent very quickly.


Tip:  We counseled the Personal Representative to file a petition seeking to reform the trust into a special needs trust.  The Court agreed that a material purpose of the trust could no longer be fulfilled and granted the petition. Once the trust was reformed into a special needs trust and funded with the inheritance, the Guardian reapplied for SSI for that trust beneficiary.  Legal counsel for the Social Security Administration agreed with the Court's ruling and honored the Court Order.  The beneficiary is now receiving SSI and Medicaid.

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Phone:  954-382-1997 or Click "Schedule a Presentation" on our website at 
Representative Special Needs Trusts, Asset Protection Planning and Guardianship Clients
Guardianship & Trust Professionals
Michael Carris, VP, Senior Trust Advisor
Regions Morgan Keegan Trust
Ft. Lauderdale


Richard Conger, Sr. Trust Advisor
John Harris, Managing Director
Coral Gables Trust
Coral Gables
Denise Lettau, V.P. Trust Advisor
Sun Trust Bank, N.A.
Fort Lauderdale



Earl Denney; Bill King; Jack Hill
Searcy Denney, et al
West Palm Beach


Ervin Gonzalez; Patrick Montoya
Colson, Hicks, Eidson
Coral Gables


Nancy LaVista
Clark Fountain La Vista Prather Keen & Kittky-Rubin
West Palm Beach

Gloretta Hall; Linnes Finney
Gary, Williams, et al


Leesfield & Partners


Levine & Glassman, LLC
Weston, FL
Mitchell Panter
Panter, Panter & Sampedro


Daniel Larson
Vaka Larson Johnson


Lon Worth Crow


Don Hinkle
Hinkle & Foran
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  Estate & Incapacity

♦ Probate & Trust   


♦ Last Will & Testament

♦ Revocable Trust

♦ Durable Power of Attorney

♦ Designation of Healthcare 

♦ Quit Claim Deed

♦ Living Will

  Advocacy Services
♦ Guardianships (adults &
  minors)/Guadian Advocacy

♦ Long Term Care Facility
   Residents' Rights

♦ Medicaid Applications &

♦ Veterans Benfits Planning

Government Assistance


♦ Special Needs Trusts

♦ Representation of Trustees

♦ Protecting Lawsuit
  Proceeds & Inheritances
  while Preserving Medicaid &
  SSI Eligibilty

♦ Exceptions to Medicaid
   Lien Recovery


♦ Reduction of Third
   Party Medicaid Liens
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Stephanie Schneider, CELA
Stephanie L. Schneider has been selected as a
Top Lawyer in Elder Law in the 2011
 South Florida Legal Guide
and Florida SuperLawyers 2012
 Stephanie is accredited by the Veterans Administration
to counsel clients about veterans benefits planning.

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Florida Bankers Association
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Tampa, FL

July 21st

Elder Mediaiton Seminar
Nova Southeastern Univ

Davie, FL
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