Your divorce is final! No doubt you want to take a break, but there is much more to be done to separate your life from your ex’s.
Post divorce checklist
First you need to update your will. Note that underage children cannot inherit directly or be designated as beneficiaries. The result would be to indirectly leave the proceeds to your estranged spouse as a parent.
You will also need to change the beneficiary in your life insurance, investment accounts, company retirement plans, IRAs and bank accounts, including your TOD or “Transfer on Death” designation on your bank accounts. Make sure that after the divorce papers, you don’t need to keep your spouse as the beneficiary before changing the beneficiary. It is very important to know that these beneficiary designations will replace your will. So if you only change your will, but not these names, the beneficiary names apply. The beneficiary on your 401 (k) account cannot be changed to anyone other than your spouse until your divorce is final without your spouse’s consent.
You may need to sell your home or refinance your mortgage if your settlement agreement so requires. Check your divorce papers for any deadlines. After you have refinanced, submit a deed transfer to the district. If your spouse is the one refinancing, request proof that they did so on time.
Was there a retirement account that was split up upon divorce? Make sure that all QDROs are prepared, signed by the judge and sent to the plan administrator. If you are the one getting money from your ex-spouse employer plan, don’t rely on him or her to do it for you. You are the one with the incentive and if this is not done you can lose if your spouse dies before the QDRO is in place.
Would you like to change your name to your virgin or another first name? When you decide to do it, let everyone know. This is no small task !! Notify Social Security and the IRS first and make sure this is done before moving on to the rest. You will need to change your name on your passport, your credit card accounts and bank accounts (after those accounts have been split), utilities, auto insurance, homeowner insurance, roof insurance, your driver’s license and mortgage, and any other bank or accounts that you are on have a loan. Don’t forget to tell your employer. When you change your social media accounts, friends and work-related contacts know that you want to be called by your “new” old name.
After your registration status changes from “married” to “single” or “head of household”, you should check the withholding tax on your paycheck. You may need a CPA to assist with this. This can be a good time to start building new relationships with a CPA and financial advisor, unless you want to keep the relationship you had.
Hopefully you did this in the course of your divorce, but if not, consider creating new passwords for your accounts. Remember, your spouse knows your date of birth, social security number, and your mother’s maiden name so you need to be careful.
Your bank accounts
Close all shared bank or credit card accounts unless you have agreed to keep them open. (This may be the case if, for example, you have agreed to keep an account for child support purposes.) Check with the bank to see if your spouse has removed your name when they were given this task to make sure that you are not liable for future debts.
Was your car in your common name? In that case, all you need to do is change your car title in your name.
Your health insurance
Health insurance is one of the most difficult aspects of budget when it comes to divorce. Ex-spouses are legally entitled to workplace health insurance for up to 36 months under COBRA. So make sure the employer knows you are divorced and that proper notification is given. Don’t assume that it’s affordable. The divorce opens the registry for entering a new health plan. So take a look around, even if you are eligible for COBRA. If your health is very good there are non-Obama health plans out there that are very affordable with good coverage. Find an independent health insurance company that can help.
Make a budget! Your financial situation may have changed and now more than ever you need to keep an eye on your retirement spending and saving.
Finally, seek therapy if you are having emotional problems (and most people are having problems) after the divorce. Better to work on getting emotionally healthier now than to start a new relationship with all that unresolved baggage. It will also help you be a better single parent.
Sounds like a lot of work? It is!!! But use this as your checklist. You don’t have to do it all in a month and just keep plugging. You will get it ready !!