Your After-Divorce Checklist of Must-Do’s
After going through a messy divorce (aren’t they all to some extent?), the last thing you want to do is mess with another bunch of administrative tasks.
But wait, there’s more to do. This to-do list may be one of the most important you ever tackle.
Why? Because it’s the ultimate irony. Don’t make these changes and your ex can get everything you own upon your death. You wouldn’t want that, right? So, let’s get started.
1. Divorce Your Ex-Husband Financially
Any disagreements here? This list is one of the first things you should do, not long after the ink dries on the decree.
Close any joint credit accounts.
Change the name on all your accounts. Your name is on, his name off. While it may be tempting to officially change your name, keep in mind that it will expand the amount of work required, so give it some thought before you do so. You’ve got plenty of work to do without piling it on with a name change.
Make sure your ex-husband’s name is off the following accounts: – Bank, insurance and investment accounts, including IRA, 401(k), pension and accounts. Make sure your ex-husband is no longer a beneficiary on any account. Keep in mind, beneficiary designations overrule your will directives. If you don’t take his name off your accounts and you die, the accounts will go to him regardless of what your will says! – Credit cards, utility bills, title to your house and other property, such as vehicles
– Insurance policies, such as life, auto, health, homeowner’s and disability
– Post office. Forward your mail if needed.
2. Start Your New Financial Life
You may think you can put off this second list, but don’t. It’s essential that you start your new financial life as soon as possible.
Open a new bank account. You may find it conve
nient to arrange direct deposit at the bank for child support, spousal support and/or alimony payments.
Start a new credit card account. Request a copy of your credit report. If you haven’t already established your own credit, this is important; start now. After you open up your new credit card, use it and make sure you pay off the balances on time and without late charges.
Meet with an estate attorney. Write and execute a new will, trusts, medical directives and/or living wills and powers of attorney. Change the beneficiaries on all documents to make sure you exclude your ex-husband – that’s a must.
Make sure you have health insurance and review your options, which may change after you are divorced. If needed, apply for COBRA.
If you have investment assets and/or receive a divorce settlement, make sure you invest it intelligently. We strongly suggest that you work with a financial advisor who functions as a fiduciary and thus operates in your best interests. Before you invest, work with the advisor to create a financial plan which will set the parameters for your investment program. Don’t put up with advisors who want to place you in high-cost products. In the investment world, high fees tend to reduce your returns, not increase them.
This is by no means a complete list, check with your attorney for more suggestions. Start now. If you have questions, we're here for you.