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Post Divorce Critical Actions

Updated: Jan 25, 2021

You might view divorce as a series of distinct steps:

filing the paperwork, negotiating with your ex, getting a

settlement and reaching the end of your marriage. Yet

still more work – sometimes lots of it – remains after

your divorce.

First, your settlement agreement likely stipulates

actions and tasks that you must finish, often under

deadlines. Develop a checklist with each action item

and due-date, with room for comments and

additional steps.

The court may not specifically set the deadline for

other post-divorce activities that you nonetheless need

to complete. For example, if resuming use of your

maiden name, you need to call your credit card

companies and banks to ask about documentation

requirements (probably a copy of your divorce decree

or other such paperwork).

Paperwork associated with name changes can take

time, so make a list of all of firms and individuals who

need to know about your name change, such as the

human resources department at the Social Security

Administration and your employer’s office, school

administrators, investment advisor, insurance company

and doctor.

Other possible paperwork and tasks after

your settlement:

Reevaluate estate plans. Consider revising

beneficiaries for your will, life insurance and bank and

retirement accounts. You may also wish to draw up: a

new power of attorney so someone can handle your

financial affairs if you are unable to revised medical

directives and possibly assign custodians for underage

children in case both you and your ex-spouse

die unexpectedly.

Track funds’ transfers. You may be required to

transfer some or all of your individual retirement

accounts, 401(k)s or pension plans to your ex-spouse.

Administrators of 401(k) or pension plans generally

require court-signed qualified domestic relations orders

(QDROs) to begin any transfers or to divide a pension

plan – and usually won’t accept any documents that

don’t conform. Carefully track the movement of the

accounts involved.

If you are to receive transfer of IRA or 401(k) money,

you must decide where the funds will go. If you don’t

currently have an IRA, be certain that you open the

correct type. For example, if you are receiving funds

from a Roth IRA, open a Roth IRA if receiving funds

from a traditional IRA or a 401(k), open a

traditional IRA.

To ensure you receive transferred funds without

incurring taxes, transfer funds (if the plans allow) to

your IRA or current 401(k), from custodian

to custodian.

Document any transfers and save the paperwork for

tax filing and other purposes.

Pre-plan to sell property. If you are required to sell

your marital home, start preparing for the sale. Engage

an experienced real estate agent to help you

determine where to improve the home to fetch the best

price. If you already moved and your ex-spouse still

lives in the home, make arrangements so you can

remove any remaining items.

Keep good records. Retain all documents relating to

your divorce, such as the decree, the settlement

agreement and parenting plan. Keep copies that prove

you performed in time the actions that the settlement

agreement required.

Also keep copies of receipt or payment of alimony,

child support, children’s expenses and property.

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