When you finally receive your Divorce Decree, it is only natural that you breathe a huge sigh of relief and finality. The path from separation to final divorce is often emotionally taxing, lengthy, and time consuming. After what seems like endless discovery and tough negotiations, your initial reaction upon receipt of your Decree is relief and an opportunity for a much-needed break. However, life continues to move on, and there are some critical steps you should take as soon as possible to make sure your affairs are together and in order. In this article, we will try to provide a simple checklist to help you work through the much-needed post-divorce steps.
Step 1, Employment: Meet with your HR Director to complete new beneficiary forms for all your work-related benefits. These include your 401(k), life insurance, and disability.
Step 2, Property Settlement Agreement: Carefully read your Property Settlement Agreement. You need to make sure you understand your obligations and complete them in a timely manner. Do you need to refinance, transfer retirement accounts, redo beneficiary forms? Are you expecting payments in a certain time frame from your former spouse?
Step 3, Estate Planning: Meet with a good estate planning attorney in order to update your Wills and Powers of Attorney. Most people will think of updating their Wills once divorced. It is actually more important to update your Powers of Attorney both your Durable Power of Attorney as well as your Medical Power of Attorney.
Step 4, Bank Accounts: You need to make sure that you have updated all of the information with your financial institutions. Often times, a bank account does have a death beneficiary.
Step 5, Investment Accounts: Similarly, you need to make sure all of your information with any third-party investment advisors is updated and all of the beneficiary designations are also updated.
Step 6, Life Insurance: Any private life insurance you have outside of your employment needs to be updated as well. Please made sure that all of your beneficiary designations are as you wish them to be post-divorce.
Step 7, Disability Insurance: Many kinds of private disability insurance have death benefits attached to them. You need to make sure your beneficiary is as you wish it to be.
Step 8, Car Titles: Often times, people do not think about how they purchased their car many years ago. If your car is titled jointly, you will need to redo the title to the car so it does not become an issue down the road.
This may seem like a daunting list, especially after going through the long divorce process. However, if you take your time and go through the list item by item, you will save your loved ones a lot of anxiety down the road and eliminate any surprises or unintended consequences. At MacElree Harvey, we help our clients navigate through this list and have excellent estate planning attorneys that can help with those issues as well. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us with any questions.