The journey from the often difficult decision to end a marriage to having your divorce decree in hard can be lengthy, taxing, and time consuming. After lengthy stretches of tough negotiations, depositions and hearings, receiving your decree can feel like a relief and an opportunity for some much needed rest. While it can be challenging to immediately consider what comes next, the world spins on, and there are some critical steps you should take as soon as your decree is finalized to fully settle your affairs. Together in this series of articles, we’ll walk through how you can ensure you and your family are properly prepared for life after divorce.
Your first priority following the receipt of your decree should be to change the beneficiary designations for any of your relevant accounts. Some changes may seem like common sense, like updating a life insurance policy, but you may not think of other items right away. Some accounts you should think about updating if not changing can include:
- Life insurance policies, including group life insurance policies through your employer
- Retirement accounts, which can include IRAs, 401(k)s and pension plans
- Bank accounts
- Investment accounts
- Disability insurance benefits, which can have death benefits attached in some cases
Unfortunately, the most important moments for which your account information should be updated tend to come as surprises. Just as you would open a life insurance policy for preemptive security for your heirs, you should plan ahead in confirming your heirs are appropriately designated on the account. Taking five minutes to address this information now could save your loved ones a lot of confusion and contention later on.
No part of getting a divorce is easy. By taking measured and intentional actions once you receive your divorce decree, though, you can be proactive in making life simpler down the road. In my next article, we’ll discuss why updating your estate planning documents should be your next priority in post-divorce planning. Life after divorce will surely present triumphs and challenges just as any chapter of your life already has. This series will hopefully help you limit some difficulties for you and your family as you take them on together.
Lance is the Chair of the Family Law Group, Co-Chair of the Litigation Department, and serves on the Firm’s Executive Committee. He has been counseling individuals and business owners on a variety of litigation areas for over twenty-five years.