When you’re going through a divorce, it seems like it will NEVER end. After everything you’ve been through, you just want to move on! And then, one day, a manila envelope arrives with your signed divorce decree tucked neatly inside. Your divorce is finalized. You are officially single.
But whether this day calls for you to celebrate or grieve, you must continue to stay focused. Although you’re at the home stretch, you still need to do a few more things.
1. Know What Your Decree Says
First and foremost, you want to go through your divorce decree and understand it. It is very likely that you’re going to need an order that splits a retirement plan – we call that a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO for short)(make QDRO a hyperlink to the article describing the QDRO). A QDRO isn’t something you want to delay, so I recommend sitting down with a financial advisor or a planner as soon as possible to discuss your options. They can walk you through the process and help you create a new financial plan.
2. Get Organized
Whether or not you’re a naturally organized person, it’s extremely important to have a system for all of your essential documents… especially financial ones. If you don’t have a system in place, you’ll want to create one. If you already have a system, I recommend going through your documents again and making sure everything is clean & up to date.
3. Update Your Assets and Accounts
If you are planning to use your maiden name, don’t forget to change your driver’s license and social security card. You will also want to go through all of your existing assets and accounts to remove your ex-spouse’s name. Accounts to include are utilities, insurance policies, bank and investment accounts, and credit cards. If you currently don’t have a credit card in your name, now is the perfect time to get one. Also, don’t forget that you may need to update the titling on your home and auto.
4. Review Your Beneficiary Designations
Update all of your insurance policies and beneficiaries on your accounts as soon as possible! Unforeseen things happen, and you don’t want your ex-spouse to receive a large payout because you forgot to update account information.
5. Write a New Will
You may or may not currently have a will, but it is important you have a new one done after your divorce is finalized. Your life and priorities have changed—your new will should reflect this! You may also want to terminate any existing trusts and create new ones.
Closing one chapter of your life and opening another can be both a scary and exciting time. It is okay to be sad about the end of your old life. But remember, you have an opportunity to create a new future for yourself.
When it comes to divorce, I don’t think anyone enjoys the business side of things. But with each step you complete, you are one step closer to your new life. One step closer to healing. You will become more comfortable with your newfound independence every day. Be sure to make the most of all those struggles you have endured. Make the most of your new life.