Divorce is an ending, but it is also a new beginning, and with all new journeys it is good to have a road map. Here are 5 simple things that EVERYONE needs to do post-divorce.
1. Create a master list of tasks and times for actions as set forth in your divorce agreement or divorce judgement. We do this for our clients as a regular matter, but many lawyers don’t. It’s important to be mindful of when actions need to be done, as in transferring title, paying your ex, exchanging belongings, deeding property and dividing accounts. Enter into your calendar when to expect payments or when you need to make payments. If you can automate paying support by direct deposit or payroll deduction, do so.
2. If you haven’t already, have a lawyer draft a new will, and change your health care proxy and durable power of attorney. You certainly don’t want to have your ex making life altering health decisions for you. Also, make sure you have changed the beneficiary information on all of your retirement accounts, life insurance policies and any other asset you may own that has a beneficiary component (for instance, make sure your homeowners insurance is in your name if you are the sole owner now).
3. Make sure all joint accounts, both bank accounts AND credit cards, including store cards, are closed and make sure your name is off any accounts of your ex. If you had charging privileges on an account that he/she is keeping, write the credit card company via certified mail RRR (Return Receipt Requested) to tell them you are no longer responsible for charges, and cut up your card.
4. If you are taking back your maiden name (guys this doesn’t apply to you), be sure you do ALL the paperwork necessary. That means driver’s licence, Social Security, and all bank, retirement and credit card accounts etc.
5. Make sure you have done everything necessary to be sure you (or your ex) recieves COBRA benefits. This is best handled through the Human Resources Department of whatever company is providing the insurance. Be sure you do this right away as there are drop dead time frames for reporting changes in status.