Five Priorities For When Your Divorce Becomes Final
After an emotional roller coaster, you have FINALLY received that 8 ½ by 11 manila envelope containing your Final Judgement/Divorce Decree, signed by the judge. You are officially a single person once again. You may celebrate or you may mourn, BUT … it’s time to remain focused. You’re not quite done yet. There are some critical items to be taken care of right away. Here are just a few of them.
Review Your Final Judgement / Decree
First, read it carefully to make sure you fully understand what it says, and highlight what’s been awarded to you along with what actions need to be taken. There’s a good chance you need to have a QDRO (Qualified Domestic Relations Order, or something similar) prepared to divide a retirement plan. Don’t delay! Seek out a Certified QDRO Specialist or QDRO preparer to get that process started quickly to ensure a proper split of the account.
Now is a great time to sit down with a holistic Financial Organizer and Coordinator to create a comprehensive financial plan, open any new accounts, and consolidate old ones. Identify your Personal Financial CEO.
Review All Accounts
Be sure to remove your ex-spouse’s name from any existing accounts including utilities, banks, credit cards, insurance policies, etc. If you don’t already have one, get a credit card in your name alone. Now is the time to establish your own financial identity.
If you’ve never had one, create a filing system for all of your important financial documents. Identify any statements that need to be retained for taxes. If you’re tech-savvy, this might be 100% electronic or cloud-based, but some type of storage system needs to exist.
Review Estate Documents
Be sure to update all your beneficiaries on accounts and insurance policies immediately. There are tons of nightmare stories of ex-spouse’s inheriting huge 401(k) plans because someone forgot to update the beneficiaries.
Write a New Will
Everything has changed. Be sure your new wishes are clear to everyone so there is no confusion. If you had any trusts in place, you’ll need to have them terminated and create new ones.
When you get that envelope, it’s a new beginning for you. Cry a little for the old life … maybe just for a moment, but feel the anticipation of your new life. Your divorce may be a huge blessing. The change may allow you to become a much healthier, well-rounded, and happier person.
Move forward and with each step, feel your new independence and identity sinking in. It will all help you to heal.
Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Make it count!