Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Post-Divorce Paperwork and Actions

When you are going through a divorce, you are probably most concerned with the terms of the property division and the arrangements regarding the kids, if you have children. While those issues are truly life-altering, there are some other details that you shouldn't overlook as you start your recovery from the divorce experience. Your attorney may or may not discuss what you need to do to wrap up the paperwork and loose ends.

In case that doesn't happen, or in case you didn't pay real close attention, here is a checklist of steps for you to consider and take. These are not in order of importance or in chronological order. You can decide what you need to do, or your attorney can help you decide which you should do.

1. Update your life insurance, retirement accounts and IRA beneficiaries. That is especially true if your ex was the beneficiary. You can check with your agent on what you need to do. If you don't make the change, your ex could receive a big payoff someday. If minor children could be the beneficiaries, you should talk with an estate planner to figure out how to handle that.

2. You should re-do your will, and write one now, if you didn't already have one. You probably don't want your ex to be the beneficiary there either.

3. If you change your name, such as resuming your maiden name, you will need to take a certified copy of your divorce decree and make the changes on such things as:
  • Social Security card
  • Driver's license
  • Credit cards
  • Bank accounts and debit cards
  • Insurance policies.

And there could be other accounts in your name, so keep a certified copy handy.

4. Change the car titles. You should get your car in your name and get your ex's vehicles in his/her name and out of yours. In Texas, there is a form that the County Tax Assessor/Collector has for you to fill out when you transfer a car out of your name. It's a good idea to file that so that red light tickets, parking tickets or toll road charges don't come to you after the vehicle is no longer yours, and you don't want to be responsible if someone has an accident in that vehicle after you really don't own it.

5. Close or separate joint bank and credit card accounts. You don't need to remain liable for your ex-spouse's debts or bad financial decisions.

6. If you plan to use COBRA to continue your current insurance policy from your ex-spouse's health insurance plan, be sure to file the paperwork right away. There is a very short window of time to do that. Afterwards, there's no way to get back in. Check with the company as soon as the divorce is final.

7. Exchange personal property and photos with your ex, if that hasn't already been taken care of.

8. Obtain separate auto insurance, if you don't already have it.

9. Change over the accounts and deposits for your home utilities, if that hasn't been done yet.

10. Check with the Post Office to make sure your mail gets delivered to where you live now and that you don't get your spouse's mail.

If you have other suggestions of steps to take, please share them by sending a comment.


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