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Post-Divorce Checklist: What to Include

gavel and rings

After a divorce, it can seem like everything in your life changes. You might have to adjust to being a single-parent and supporting yourself with just one income. And it can be a challenge to grow accustomed to these changes and this new normal of your post-divorce life.

However, there are a few other important changes that you should make after a divorce.

1. Check your estate plan

It is safe to assume that you should update your estate plan whenever your life changes. And divorce is certainly a significant life change.

There are three people you should consider when updating your estate plan after a divorce:

  • Yourself: Your estate plan outlines your wishes, and your wishes may have changed after the stressful and substantial changes involved in the divorce process. It is also unlikely that you want your ex-spouse to make decisions on your behalf if you are incapacitated. If your ex-spouse has power of attorney or is the personal representative of your living will, you may want to change who will speak for you.
  • Your children: It may be necessary to reconsider guardianships for minor children. For example, you could list your ex-spouse as a guardian, should anything happen to you. You may also want to list your children as the beneficiaries to inherit your property in place of your spouse.
  • Your ex-spouse: After the divorce is finalized and the marital property divided, it is fairly easy to disinherit your ex-spouse. However, it is still essential to review the beneficiaries included in your estate plan to ensure they align with your wishes.

2. Revise your life insurance beneficiaries if necessary

It is just as important to review the beneficiaries of your life insurance as it is your estate plan. But dealing with life insurance policies during and after divorce can be complicated. Sometimes, spouses have to include it as marital property and divide it during the divorce process. However, depending on the type of policy, it might be separate property as well.

Regardless, it is critical to change the beneficiary of your life insurance policy after a divorce. Most people list their spouse as the primary beneficiary of their life insurance policy. And it is doubtful that you want your ex-spouse to benefit from it after the marriage has ended. Adding your children as beneficiaries instead ensures their financial security if something should happen to you.

3. Changing your name

If you desire to revert back to your maiden name, you are required to do so at your local Social Security Office. Be sure to bring a copy of your divorce order and identification (which can be a driver's license or passport). Then, you will change back to your maiden name written on the certified divorce decree. Lastly, notify all creditors of the name change.

4. Review all other financial accounts—and who’s connected to them

The property division process usually divides most of your financial accounts from your ex-spouse, including:

  • Bank accounts
  • Savings
  • Pensions and retirement

However, it is essential to review these accounts again in your estate plan. You can ensure that these accounts are in your name, and then also make sure your children are the listed beneficiaries to inherit these finances. An experienced estate planning attorney can help answer any of your questions and make any of the changes you need to find peace of mind in your post-divorce life.