One of the biggest risks after divorce is doing nothing. As with many things in life, post-divorce procrastination can produce disastrous consequences. During the course of a long-term marriage many things were co-mingled and two lives were intertwined. Now, these two lives need to be separated.
Post-divorce actions generally fall into three categories:
• Court Required—Tasks in your marital settlement agreement or final judgment that you’re mandated to do.
• Critical — Immediate changes to prevent future problems and should be done right away.
• Prudent — Important things that need to get done, but somehow are put off.
Coming out of your divorce, there will likely be many actions stipulated regarding asset separation and other matters. Often, the challenge with these tasks is that they may not be specifically assigned to either of you. Vehicle title changes, account closures, division of financial assets, quitclaim deeds, among others, are common tasks. It’s prudent to take ownership for any action items not specifically assigned. It’s a good idea to follow up closely on tasks assigned to your ex-spouse. Often, people in such situations get help from professionals who can support your efforts in working through tasks in your MSA.
Revoking an existing trust and/or will is something important to consider. And if you did not have one, think about getting one. Now that you are divorced, your assets could be titled in your sole name, unless you have a legal document stipulating otherwise. Insurance considerations — medical, life, vehicle, disability — should be at the top of your mind. For example, if you were on your spouse’s medical insurance policy, you might not be insured after the divorce. And post-divorce, the two of you can no longer be insured under the same vehicle insurance policy. A simple thing easily done but often neglected is the updating of beneficiaries on policies and investment accounts, such as insurance policies and IRAs. For many, this is a top priority given even the slight chance of tragic death and the proceeds going to a former spouse. Consider changing beneficiary designations to a trusted relative or a Trust, if you have one. And any account held for the benefit of children, in the name of a guardian or trustee, should be looked at. Moving forward, you and your exspouse will need to agree on any guardian/trustee designations. If you shared online credentials with your exspouse, consider all the passwords and/or accounts that need to be changed or closed.
Another action often overlooked is the changing or collecting of all keys/access codes to vehicles, vessels, real estate and other property.
Did you former spouse manage the family finances? If so, you might want to consider hiring a professional to manage your investments, deal with taxes and even help with a financial plan and budget. If you restored your maiden name as a result of the divorce, it’s a good idea to make the corresponding change with creditors, the Department of Motor Vehicles, on your passport, with the Social Security Administration and the Department of Elections, among others. Often, something that often overlooked is the safekeeping of important documents and keepsakes. You and your ex-spouse will need to agree on who will hold important documents, such as children’s passports, birth certificates, medical and religious documents, photographs/ videos, keepsakes. Another good idea is for one of you should keep the original marriage certificate, with a copy provided to the other person.
Carlos Blanco founded The Big Kaboom www.thebigkaboom.com, which combines people, technology and social elements to support clients through the divorce process. He may be contacted by calling 305-908-1171 or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.