Top 10 Post-Divorce Actions to Consider

You’ve taken all the right steps to finalize your divorce, so now you can breathe a sigh of relief – right?  Not so fast.  There is still plenty of work to do.  Listed below are the “Top 10 Post-Divorce Actions” one should consider taking after finalizing a divorce.

  1. Update Legal Documents – Hire an attorney to update all legal documents or create new documents, such as wills, trusts, power of attorney, and health care directives.  All prior documents should be legally destroyed or revoked.
  2. Change Beneficiary Designations – Change beneficiary designations for all life insurance policies, retirement plans, individual retirement accounts, and stock option plans.  Some plans may require a new beneficiary designation form be completed even if you are keeping your ex-spouse as a beneficiary.
  3. Transfer Property – Transfer all property to the designated party as provided for in the divorce decree or settlement agreement.  Legal documents may need to be prepared in order to transfer certain asset, such as a quitclaim deed for a real estate transfer or a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) for division of a retirement plan.
  4. Change Name – Consider changing your name if you have a hyphenated name or took the last name of your husband.  If you decide to change your name, you will need to notify a number of agencies and institutions, including the Social Security Administration, department of motor vehicles (driver’s license), U.S Department of State (passport), financial institutions and credit card companies.
  5. Close Joint Accounts / Liabilities –Close all joint accounts, including bank accounts, credit cards, lines of credit, mortgages, and utilities.  You should run a credit report after sixty days to confirm all joint accounts have actually been closed.
  6. Change Passwords / Access Codes – Consider changing all passwords and access codes, including such items as web based access to accounts (bank accounts, credit cards, retirement plans, etc.), email accounts, social media accounts, personal safe, and home alarm systems.
  7. Financial Planner & Tax Advisor – Meet with a certified financial planner to update your financial plan or create one if such a plan does not exist.  You should also meet with a certified public accountant (CPA) to review the income tax ramifications of your divorce.  Your CPA can assist you in projecting your tax liability, which can result in a need to change your payroll withholding allowances or make quarterly estimated tax payments.
  8. Copies of Divorce Decree – Secure extra copies of your divorce decree and settlement agreement.  Keep these documents in a secure place with your other important documents.  There will be times when you are required to produce copies of these documents, such as when transferring property or making a claim against your ex-spouses Social Security benefits.
  9. Obtain New Credit – Open a credit card in your own name.  You should use the credit card to begin establishing a credit history, but do not go overboard.
  10. Children – Start keeping a journal regarding visitation and child support payments if there are children involved.  Keep track of the money you spend on the children.  This information could be very useful in the event your ex-spouse decided to file a motion to modify in the future.

It should be noted that not all of the actions listed above may be applicable to your divorce situation.  If you have any questions regarding any of the actions listed above, or for other actions you should consider, please feel free to contact a member of the Anders Forensic and Valuation Services Group.