The divorce papers are signed, it should be over, right? If only it were that easy. All of the legal work may have been completed, but there still may be many financial hurdles to overcome. Now that everything has been split up, it is imperative to make sure that all of the “housekeeping” is completed. There are many action items specified in the divorce documents, and you must remember to follow through to make sure that the divorce plan works the way it’s intended to.
You don’t want your ex-spouse to have access to anything unintentionally. You may have been given control of a joint account and it feels like everything is status quo. However, until you legally change the title of the account, it is still legally joint property. All joint credit cards should be closed prior to the final divorce, although payments may still be required by one party. If your name is still on a joint credit card, that requires ongoing payment after the divorce, your credit may be affected if your ex-spouse stops paying the bill. You should check your credit score often to make sure nothing is affecting your credit rating.
Did you remember to retitle the car and change the insurance policy? Did you redraft your will? Did you follow up on the QDRO? Did you refinance your mortgage as required, or get your name off of debt associated with a property you no longer own? Did you change club or gym memberships? Did you change the beneficiaries (or titling) of your bank accounts, investment accounts, retirement accounts (including IRA’s), annuities, life insurance, health savings accounts, general powers of attorney (also for health care proxies and living wills), and trusts.
Beneficiary designations overrule all, so they must be changed. Some changes will require additional legal expense to amend, but they are important enough to warrant immediate attention, especially if there are minor children involved.
Don’t procrastinate, it doesn’t get easier and you only stand to lose what you fought hard to get.
Tracy Badgley, CPA, CDFA, CGMA