For those going through divorce, it seems like after spending months, if not years, negotiating, litigating, and discussing your divorce agreement once the agreement is signed and stamped, the work of divorce should be over. Despite all the work and stress, completing the division of your assets does not end once the judge has stamped the final agreement. The stamped agreement at least dictates exactly what is divided and how much goes to whom, but to transact these changes, you must do a lot more work.
Here is a checklist of other post-divorce matters you will need to complete.
- Change emergency contacts. Most people do not want their ex spouse involved in their emergencies following the divorce.
- Establish your own bank account. If you have any joint accounts with your former spouse, be sure to close those accounts and open a new account for yourself.
- Review your credit. If you have any remaining joint cards, be sure to cancel them (or remove your ex-spouse as an authorized user). For individuals who have not established credit on their own, make sure you begin doing so immediately.
- Budget and cash flow review. Your financial circumstances will be much different now that you are divorced. Be sure to create a reasonable budget and plan for how to live within your new means and build your own financial future successfully.
- Notify insurance and update car title. Change the titles to your vehicles as set forth in the divorce agreement. Notify your auto insurance of any changes in ownership, vehicle, or address.
- Review and update your estate plan. Now that you’re divorced, it is time to update your beneficiaries. You don’t want to mistakenly award your estate to your ex spouse.
- Change your beneficiary designations. Be sure to update any insurance policies, retirement accounts, pensions, trusts, annuities, and any other account you’ve named your ex spouse as a beneficiary.
- Split retirement plans according to the terms of your marriage settlement agreement. Make sure you consult with someone about dividing retirement accounts (avoid paying unnecessary taxes or penalties). Some accounts will require a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO), others will not. I urge you to begin this process immediately as it can take time and effort to complete the process.
- Research your health insurance. Do you need to apply for COBRA? Can you insure yourself through your own employment or do you need to take out a private health insurance plan? These are all things you need to consider and make sure you have adequate coverage for yourself (and your children if needed).
- Change your name and update social security and your driver’s license. If you legally changed your last name, and want to change it back, you will need to go through the tedious process. Here is a link on how to change your name after divorce in California.
- Change your email and passwords. If your email includes your married name, change it back. If your ex spouse and you shared your login information, it’s time to change it.
If you’re still in the midst of divorce, you can begin working on some of these tasks prior to the divorce being complete. Some, such as dividing retirement accounts, may require an official divorce decree. Be sure to consult with your attorney, mediator, or financial planner. It is our job as your expert to assist you through all aspects of this stressful process.