It’s a relief to have the judge approve your Separation Agreement, but you still have a few more things to do, before you fully free your finances. It’s now time to do some estate planning after divorce. It’s never fun to think about death, or your ex, but you’ll have to push through the discomfort and check on these important financial items before you’re done. Otherwise, your ex-spouse might get a windfall when you die.
Close Joint Accounts and other Separation Agreement “to do’s”
Set up a Trust for Minors
Execute a new Will
Lastly, I suggest having a new will drafted and executed. This is not simply to take your ex-spouse’s name off of the will, but to ensure that your children or your step-children (if you are getting remarried) will receive their intended inheritance. You may have seen this story in the Boston Globe about a person who cared for her step-father for many years, as he was ill and dying, and she continued to live in his home. But because he didn’t have a will, the rightful heirs of the home are the step-father’s estranged nieces and the step-child was forced to move out.
- Close joint accounts.
- Transfer real estate into the appropriate name.
- Change beneficiaries on life insurance, retirement, and brokerage accounts (see #5).
- Do you have any accounts with a transfer on death provision? Make sure those designated beneficiaries are correct.
- Establish a trust for the benefit of the children, and make it the beneficiary of any asset that would otherwise transfer outright to a minor child.
- Double-check and possibly re-write your Will.