The Post-Divorce Checklist

The Post-Divorce Checklist
The Post-Divorce Checklist

Your divorce is final. What’s next? How do you move forward? How do you find the right path to follow?

Initiating the next steps can be daunting, overwhelming, and frightening, but the idea of starting fresh and new is worth the trek through the mud. Planning a new lifestyle can bring about feelings of excitement, inspiration and normalcy. With the support and guidance of a professional, transitioning to life after divorce can be simplified.

When dealing with a divorce decree, one of the things we focus on at Strada is creating a post-divorce checklist before the divorce is actually final. In the last stages of your divorce, there are many things you can do to help prepare yourself for the next phase.

The purpose of this blog is to shed some light on some of the things one might have to complete, per their decree. What we like to do is sit down with the client and the nearly final draft of the Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA) (or divorce decree) to determine the most pressing tasks. We then create a checklist using those tasks as our guide. You can do exactly the same thing at home.

As a companion to this article, please feel free to download and use this Post-Divorce Checklist PDF to keep track of all of the important tasks associated with life after divorce.

Your post-divorce tasks might fall into these major areas:

  • Cash management - budgets, spending needs including potentially a home
  • Tax organization
  • Understanding your investments and redefining your portfolio to suit your needs
  • Insurance analyses - health, auto, home - do they still work for you?
  • Coordinating new estate plans - often pushed off but critical to address within 6 months of divorce finalization

Sit down and read your decree, divide your tasks into the above categories and tackle them one at a time.

For example: Cash management: change banks, open new accounts, close credit cards, analyze new expenses including groceries, and let things settle for 6 months before making big decisions; Taxes: determine who is filing, by when, what documents do you need to share, how will you archive. What can you do to prepare for your new tax status as Single or Head of Household?

There are many things that need to be completed after a divorce, but one of the most pressing concerns is “How and when will I get my money?” This could entail:

  • Multiple transfers and title changes on accounts
  • Transferring ownership of different investments
  • Coordinating the paperwork around opening up new accounts and having funds transferred in

This is the time of year where we start the tax organization process with our clients. Post divorce, this can be even more confusing. With regard to income tax and obligations and returns, one person might be obligated to file and report to the other. There are so many executable action items that need to be considered pursuant to a divorce:

  • Beneficiaries on insurance policies and/or individual retirement accounts
  • Executing to qualified relation domestic orders
  • Transferring IRAs
  • Stock option executions
  • Distribution requests
  • Name changes
  • Removing signors on accounts
  • Transfer of titles on property
  • Health insurance changes

Once through the administrative matters of the divorce, you can focus on your future, how you want to live and how you visualize your new life ahead.

Dealing with all these issues can be overwhelming, but a controlled, well-defined approach will help you complete each one in an accurate and efficient manner. If you have any questions about post-divorce tasks, please feel free to give us a call.

Jennifer Failla, CDFA™
Principal, Strada Wealth Management
Toll Free: 866.526.7098