5 Priorities When Your Divorce Becomes Final
By Andrea McGrath
FINALLY! After an emotional roller coaster, you get that 8 ½ by 11 manila envelope with your divorce decree signed by the judge. You are officially a single person once again. You may mourn on that day, or celebrate, but stay focused, you’re not quite done yet. There are some critical items that you want to take care of right away.
Review Your Decree
First, make sure you fully understand what is in that envelope and what has been awarded to you. There’s a good chance that you now need to have a QDRO prepared to split a retirement plan. Don’t delay! Get that going now to ensure a timely split of the account. Now is a great time to sit down with a financial advisor Andrea B McGrath, CFP®,CDFA® to map out your new financial plan, open any new accounts necessary and consolidate any old ones.
Review All Accounts
Be sure to remove your ex-spouse’s name from any existing accounts including utilities, banks, insurance policies, credit cards, etc. If you don’t already have one, get a credit card in your name alone. Now is the time to establish your own financial identity.
If you’ve never had one, create a filing system for all of your important financial documents as well as any statements that need to be retained for taxes. If you’re tech savvy, this might be 100% electronic but it needs to exist.
Review Estate Docs
Be sure to update all your beneficiaries on accounts and insurance policies immediately. I could tell you nightmare stories of ex spouse’s inheriting huge 401(k) plans because someone forgot to update the beneficiaries.
Write a New Will
Everything has changed. Be sure your new wishes are clear so there is no confusion. If you had any trusts in place, you’ll need to have them terminated and create new ones.
I remember when I got my final decree in the mail. It felt like a new beginning. I did cry a little for the old life, just a little, but I felt my heart swell a little in anticipation of the new one. Now, years down the road, I’m convinced that my divorce was one of the biggest blessings of my life. The change allowed me to become a much happier, healthier, and well-rounded person. The business side of things isn’t tons of fun, but with each step you’ll feel your new independence and identity sinking in and it will all help you to heal.
Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Make it count!
Andrea is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP), a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA), a Retirement Income Chartered Professional (RICP) and a Chartered Retirement Planning Councilor (CRPC) whose primary focus is to help divorcing individuals achieve financial independence and sustainability before, during and after divorce. By performing short- and long-term financial analysis as well as providing creative settlement solutions, Andrea will provide you with peace of mind that your settlement is financially feasible and can go the distance.
Andrea’s association with Vesta allows her to educate and guide those who are contemplating or in the midst of a divorce and help them maintain focus and structure so they can achieve better outcomes. To her it is not just about the numbers — It’s about the person. It’s about instilling in her clients to be better and not bitter and to take any negative energy surrounding their current circumstances and turn it around and reinvest it back into themselves to be who they want to be. Andrea’s message is: “Don’t let your divorce define you, let it inspire you.”
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