While preparing for a divorce, most individuals have to spend considerable time and effort accessing, copying, organizing and understanding documents from their financial portfolios that have accumulated throughout the duration of their marriage.  Once the divorce settlement agreement nears conclusion, many individuals want nothing more than to move on and think about something other than credit card statements, retirement accounts, stock options, etc. Unfortunately, there are lots of people who don’t take the time to update or change any documents after their divorce is finalized and that could cause you problems down the road.  For example, if you were to forget to update the beneficiary to your IRA, your ex could inherit it after you were divorced.  Because it is so difficult to keep track of all the documents you might need to update when you get divorced, here’s a list of some of the more common documents you’ll want to make sure to update once your case is finalized:

  • Retirement Plans: (e.g., 401K, IRA, pension plan, etc.)  Retirement plans are monies set aside for an individual’s retirement. When the individual dies, their designated beneficiary will receive these monies.
  • Life Insurance Policy: A life insurance policy can provide for your family after your death and pay for your funeral costs.
  • Will & Trust: These documents can identify the persons or entities that will receive your property when you die. If you have minor children, they also allow you to designate who you would like to be guardian for your minor children. A Will also requires that you appoint an executor to manage your estate. A Will allows you the opportunity to update your beneficiaries to reflect your new marital status.
  • W-4: This document helps your employer to withhold the correct federal income tax from your pay. With your changed marital status, you might want to adjust your number of dependents to reflect your newly single status.
  • Medical Treatment Authorization and Consent Form: This form is important when your children are not with either a parent or legal guardian. Because your children are probably in different care situations than before your divorce, you might want to make sure whomever is watching your children can help them get appropriate medical care should they need it.
  • Medical Power of Attorney: This document designates a person whom you trust to make health care decisions on your behalf should you be unable to make those decisions yourself.
  • Directive to Physicians and Family or Surrogates (Living Will): A living will helps you communicate your wishes about medical treatment if and when you are no longer to make decisions due to terminal illness or incapacity.
  • HIPPA Authorizations at each of your doctors: The HIPPA authorization allows you to indicate who, besides yourself may have access to your medical information.