Five Things You Must Do After Your Divorce Is Final
By Duncan E. White, Owner
Inkpointe Divorce Solutions, LLC
IRMO, SC – FINALLY! After an emotional roller coaster, you get that manila envelope with your divorce decree signed by the judge. You are officially a single person again. You may celebrate, or you may mourn on that day, but stay focused – you’re not quite done yet. There are some very important items that you will want to take care of right away.
Review Your Decree
First, make sure you fully understand what’s in that envelope and what’s been legally awarded to you. There’s a good chance that you will need to have a QDRO prepared to split a retirement plan. Don’t delay! Get it going to ensure a timely split of the account. Now is a great time to sit down with a financial advisor to map out your new financial plan, open any new accounts necessary and consolidate any old ones. You’ve just gone from “our plan” to “my plan” and it may require some significant changes to your retirement strategy.
Review all accounts
If you don’t already have one, get a credit card in your name alone. Now is the time to establish your own financial identity. And be sure to remove your ex-spouse’s name from any existing accounts including utilities, banks, credit cards, insurance policies, etc.
If you’ve never had one, create a filing system for your important financial documents as well as any statements that need to be retained for taxes. If you’re tech savvy, this might be 100% electronic but it needs to exist.
Review Estate Docs
Be sure to update all your beneficiaries on accounts and insurance policies immediately. When I worked for an insurance company years ago, I remember taking a call from a woman whose husband had just died. When I asked to verify her information, she wasn’t the person listed on the account. Turns out, the beneficiary of her husband’s life insurance policy was his ex-wife who he had divorced over 25 YEARS EARLIER! You don’t want to live a nightmare story of an ex-spouse inheriting a huge 401(k) plan or life insurance benefit because someone forgot to update the beneficiaries.
Write a New Will
Everything has changed. Be sure your new wishes are clear so there is no confusion. If you had any trusts in place, you’ll need to have them terminated and create new ones.
When you get your final decree, it may feel like a new beginning. You might cry a little for the end of your old life, but your heart should also swell a little in anticipation of the new one. The business side of divorce isn’t tons of fun, but with each step you’ll feel your new independence and identity sinking in and it will help you heal.
Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Make it count!
If you need a little help reaching the finish line, contact us today. We’re here to help!
Duncan E. White is a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA®) and has been a licensed financial advisor since 2010. He leads a Second Saturday Divorce Workshop each month for the benefit of those seeking information about the divorce process.
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Content in this material is for general information only and not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. LPL Financial and Inkpointe Divorce Solutions do not offer tax, legal or mortgage lending services or advice.