Once your divorce is finalized, there may still be several things to do in order to ensure there are no financial loose ends. Below is a checklist of items to help you separate your financial affairs properly.
Bank and Investment Accounts
- Open individual checking and savings accounts and be sure to close any remaining joint accounts, other than any designated children’s expense accounts.
- Close any joint investment brokerage accounts and reestablish in your individual name. If assets are being transferred from a joint account to a separate account, be sure the company handles them as in-kind transfers when needed to avoid any unexpected tax consequences.
- Review and update the beneficiary designations on all retirement and pension accounts.
- If there are IRAs or other retirement accounts to be transferred, provide the custodian with a copy of the settlement in order to get them processed.
- If a QDRO is required to split a qualified retirement account, confirm that the plan administrator has accepted it and that it has been filed with the court.
Real Estate and Mortgages
- Transfer ownership on all real estate deeds and be sure they are recorded at the appropriate county recorder office.
- Complete any refinancing or mortgage assumptions necessary.
Other Real Property (Automobiles, etc.)
- Transfer ownership and registration for any automobiles, boats, etc. and be sure they are recorded with the appropriate DMV office.
- Be sure any auto loans, etc. are refinanced as needed.
Credit Cards and Other Debts
- Open individual credit card accounts.
- Confirm any balances are paid off as agreed and then close all joint accounts.
- If necessary, transfer any credit card/loan balances into your own name and then close joint accounts.
- If health insurance plans will change, obtain COBRA coverage or start a new individual policy.
- Like the retirement accounts, be sure to review and update the beneficiaries listed on any life insurance or other policies.
- Update any homeowners, umbrella, auto, etc., insurance policies.
- If appropriate, obtain a life and/or disability insurance policy on the payor of child or spousal support to protect income should the payor die. The recipient of support should be both owner and beneficiary, and should control payment of premiums.
- Review and update your will and/or trust, and be sure to designate guardians for your children if necessary.
- Update any health care proxy and power of attorney documents.
- If in your settlement, complete IRS form 8332 in order to transfer child dependency exemptions to the non-custodial parent.
- With changes in income and filing status, be sure to review your tax withholding allowances and determine if any estimated quarterly payments might be necessary.
Final Credit Check and Ongoing Budget
- Approximately 30-60 days after all of your updates have been made, run a credit report and verify that the credit bureaus have been updated.
- Be sure to review your new budget and make the lifestyle adjustments needed.
- Consider a full review with your CPA and/or investment professional to determine if any future tax planning or investment changes should be considered.
Once all of your financial loose ends are wrapped up, you’ll be in a position to move forward confidently, without worrying about any past issues creeping back up.
Your financial future is in your own capable hands.