A marriage may legally end with a divorce decree. Planning for divorce, however, should also include taking actions after the decree is issued. A spouse who was on their ex’s health insurance policy must obtain their own policy. Likewise, the ex must be removed from a spouse’s policy and the insurance carrier should receive notification about the change in their marital status.
Joint expenses need to be changed because a spouse may be liable for their ex-spouse’s spending. The former spouse should be removed from items such as credit cards and utilities and as an authorized user on individual financial accounts. Joint accounts need to be closed. A spouse should have their name removed from any credit cards held by their ex.
A certified copy of the divorce judgment should be obtained if a spouse’s plans to change their name after divorce. Names should be changed on the Social Security card, driver’s license and anywhere else a name is listed. The spouse who was awarded the primary home should change the mortgage and its title through a quick claim deed as soon as possible or the former spouse may still be considered as an owner. All vehicles should be re-titled and automobile insurance should change as well.
A qualified domestic order is usually needed to divide retirement accounts except for IRAs. The paperwork should be transmitted to the retirement accounts custodians and the proceeds should go into an account in the spouse’s name. For an IRA, the custodian will usually complete the paperwork but will require a copy of the divorce decree, which will indicate how the account will be divided.
Other items include executing a new will and powers of attorney for health care and financial matters. Beneficiaries need to be changed on life insurance policies, annuities, retirement accounts, IRAs and pay on death accounts or an ex-spouse may become an unintentional beneficiary of these assets.
As an added measure of security, passwords should be changed on all digital websites and accounts. Passwords cannot be like ones used in the past and based on easily-guessed items such as birthdates or the names of children and pets.
As one can see, many changes are often required following a divorce. This can get overwhelming and confusing. An attorney can help plan for divorce. They may also provide guidance that matters take place afterwards and assure that the decree is followed.