A Checklist for the Newly Divorced

Divorce can be a long and painful process. When the papers are finally signed, you may feel like breaking out the champagne—or hiding your misery in bed. But pretty quickly, you’ll have to turn to practical and financial matters. Here’s a checklist to guide you, as you set yourself up to be financially separate

  • Retirement plans and life insurance policies. Update your beneficiaries.
  • Will and (perhaps) trusts. Modify your beneficiaries. You’ll probably want to remove your spouse and name new successor trustees, executors and agents, as well.
  • Health insurance. If you were covered under your ex’s policy when you were married, you’ll need your own policy now, through your employer or a private plan. You may also need insurance for your dependent kids.
  • Car insurance. If you and your ex had a joint policy, one or both of you will need new car insurance.
  • College savings. Unless it’s spelled out in your divorce decree, you and your ex should discuss how you’ll pay for the kids’ college education. If you had set up 529 college savings plans, which of you will own the plans after the divorce?
  • Life and disability insurance. Check whether your policy amounts are still adequate. If you are paying child support, alimony, or both, your divorce may require you to maintain insurance that will secure those obligations. If you are receiving those supports, your spouse may be required to maintain this insurance.

That’s just the beginning. Divorce can radically change your financial status. Even if the change is less drastic, you’ll need to adapt your financial plan. Can you still afford your home or the children’s education? Can you still retire at the age you wanted?

Chances are, you’ll need to thoroughly review your expenses in light of your assets and income, and revise your savings and investment strategies.

For more tips on becoming financially engaged, explore Women & Wealth, a new Bernstein podcast series designed to educate, empower, and inspire female investors, and for additional thought leadership, check out the related blogs here.

Authors
Andrea Ross
Director—Wealth Strategies

The views expressed herein do not constitute, and should not be considered to be, legal or tax advice. The tax rules are complicated, and their impact on a particular individual may differ depending on the individual’s specific circumstances. Please consult with your legal or tax advisor regarding your specific situation.

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