Getting a Divorce? Time to Update Important Documents

Getting a divorce can be emotionally exhausting. Often, the last thing divorcing couples want to  deal with is the minutia that comes with updating legal documents. However, a failure to update these documents could result in your spouse getting your life insurance policy, or being in charge of your medical decisions.

Divorce In other cases, a failure to update your important documents may lead to considerable delay and future complications which could have been avoided.  Below are some essential documents that require review. Where appropriate, document modifications, reflecting your change in marital status, should occur.

If You Change Your Name after the Divorce

If you legally change your name during the divorce proceedings, you will need to update all identification cards, such as your driver’s license, passport, and possibly your employee badge. You also need to notify the Social Security Administration to obtain a new Social Security card.  Conveniently, the Social Security Administration provides detailed instructions  on their website.

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and Medical Forms

During the course of your marriage, it is very likely you signed HIPAA forms which authorized the release of medical information to your spouse. Your spouse is also likely listed as the primary contact on other medical forms. Contact your medical providers to change this information.

W-4

Employers rely on W-4s when determining federal tax withholding. Given your new, single status, you may want to adjust your withholdings.

All Forms with Beneficiaries

Now is the time to review all financial documents, from bank accounts held in your name only, to life insurance policies, retirement plans, brokerage accounts, and annuities. If you don’t want your now ex-spouse as the beneficiary, you must contact each account and amend the beneficiary information to replace them.

Titles to Property

In many divorces, property is not sold, but rather awarded to one party or the other.  Consider, for example, the family home. Your deed may currently indicate both of you own the home. When the divorce is final and the home becomes yours alone, change the title to reflect this. Failure to do so can complicate, and even delay, transactions in the future.

Your Last Will and Testament

Many couples leave their estates, in whole or in part, to their spouses in their will. Unless this is still your intention, you need to change your will.  This also simplifies things for your desired heirs. A will clearly updated after the divorce makes your intentions indisputably known. This will help avoid potential disputes.

Power of Attorney

If you have a living will and/or power of attorney, these should also be updated to reflect your current choice for who should make life and death decisions on your behalf.  If you still think your now ex-spouse is an appropriate choice, this should be documented. Otherwise, change the decision maker as soon as possible.

Other Accounts

Take a moment to review other accounts the two of you have shared. These include bank accounts, savings accounts, credit cards, etc. Close or update each account, converting it from a joint account to a single owner account.

If You Are Considering Divorce

Divorce can be a painful and challenging time.  Eric C. Cheshire, P.A. has over 29 years of experience, in family practice, including divorce law. Let Attorney Cheshire’s experience work for you.  Contact us at 561-655-8844 for a personal consultation.

Additional Reading

Divorce, Taxes, and Children

Should You Change Your Last Name After a Divorce?

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