4. Benefits and beneficiaries
Frequently, one spouse receives benefits (such as health, dental, and life insurance) through his or her employer and the other spouse is a beneficiary. The same is true for insurance purchased independently.
But when you divorce, the beneficiary spouse may no longer be able to access that insurance. It’s important to update those benefits to reflect your non-married status, and the non-covered spouse should consider finding alternate coverage.
In fact, you’ll want to update anything that includes a beneficiary designation, Josephson says. Along with insurance, this applies to retirement accounts such as IRAs and 401(k)s and other employment benefits.
5. Estate plan updates
Finally, update estate plan documents, including wills, revocable trusts, powers of attorney, and health care directives.
“A lot of couples have reciprocal estate plans, meaning they leave everything to each other,” Josephson says. Forgetting to update these plans has the potential to create awkward situations, or worse, may transfer your estate to someone you divorced years earlier.
These challenges can be complicated, and can bring a number of financial and legal issues on top of the emotional and social pressures you’re already feeling. You can ask for help, though, and not just from your divorce attorney.
“Don’t wait too long to get advice from a professional,” Josephson says. “Financial advisors are very well equipped to address many of these issues. Some financial firms may have a suite of advisors with different specialties, so don’t just rely on your attorney. Every professional is going to be looking at it through their own lens.”