All Those Pesky Little Updates You Need to Make After Divorce, All in One Place
Divorce can be gut-wrenching, heart-breaking, empowering… and full of paperwork. That’s right, separating your life from another person is hard on an emotional level and also just downright frustrating. There’s bank accounts to change, passwords to update, life insurance policies to dig out of the filing cabinet. It’s easy during this difficult period in your life to let something fall through the cracks. Unfortunately, missing one little thing could end up giving you a big headache in the future! After all, you don’t want to find out months later that your ex-husband still has access to your bank account or that he sold your car because you never got him to transfer the title!
Not to worry! We are here with this handy list of all the major updates you’ll need to make after the divorce is complete. We recommend working on one category each week to keep the workload manageable. Let’s dive in.
- Get a copy of your divorce decree
- Retain a copy of all your divorce paperwork
Before you can start making important updates like changing your name (if you plan to do so), you’ll need to be able to present the right paperwork. The most important thing to get is your divorce decree, which will allow you to change your name with the relevant government agencies. It’s also a good idea to get a copy of your divorce paperwork just to have evidence if your ex ever tries to reverse himself on something he agreed to.
Transfer Titles and Mortgages
- Transfer the home
- Transfer ownership of automobiles
Once the divorce is complete, don’t delay in transferring ownership on any major assets. If your ex-husband agreed that you should get ownership of the car, make sure his name is taken off the title right away so that he can’t claim ownership in the future. If you are getting the home, retitle it in your name, and remortgage it in your name if you can. On the flip side of the coin, get your name off any titles that now belong to him. If your name is still on the mortgage and your ex stops paying the monthly bill, your bank is going to come knocking on your door!
Change Your Name (if that applies to you)
- Social Security Card
- Driver’s License
- Employment File
- Work ID
- Business Documents
- Email address and signature
- Business cards
For some women, changing their name ends up being the most difficult part of the entire divorce! Start with the Social Security office and make sure to have your divorce decree handy. Move down through the list, changing your driver’s license, passport, etc. Think about any other places where it will be important to change your name, such as the title of your car or home.
Banking and Money
- Close joint accounts
- Take your ex off shared credit cards
- Open your own checking account
- Request your own credit card
- Take your ex off your retirement accounts
- Take your ex off your investment accounts
Begin the process of untangling your finances from your ex. Close down any joint banking accounts and either close shared credit cards or take one person off the card. It may be easier for you both to close everything down and open up your own accounts. Do not overlook this. As long as your ex is listed on a shared account or card, he can take any amount out of the account or continue charging on that card!
If your ex is listed as your beneficiary on your retirement account and investment accounts, take him off!
- Life insurance
- Long-term care insurance
- Auto insurance
- Home insurance
- Health insurance
How ironic would it be if you got hit by a bus tomorrow, and your ex-husband received the full payout from your life insurance because you never updated the beneficiaries on your policy? Don’t let that happen. While you’re at it, it’s time to get a separate auto insurance policy and to close out any other shared insurance accounts.
Estate Planning Documents
- Durable Power of Attorney
- Healthcare Power of Attorney
- Guardianship Designations
If your ex-husband is listed as a beneficiary, your administrator, or as a trustee on any of your estate planning documents, it’s time to make some changes. Make an appointment with your estate planning attorney to review all of your documentation. Now is probably a good time to update those documents anyway!
The Other Stuff
- Emergency contacts
Long after you get divorced, you’ll stumble upon things that need to be updated. For example, you might discover that your ex-husband is still listed as your emergency contact at work or that he has access to your Costco membership. The most important action to take is to systematically update your passwords. You do not want your ex-husband to have access to your bank accounts, your Amazon account, or any other online account where he could potentially make trouble!
While this list is far from comprehensive, we hope that it will give you a good start as you begin planning for your post-divorce life. If you are still just thinking about divorce or early on in the process, we invite you to attend a Second Saturday Divorce Workshop where you can prepare for this major life transition.