Friday, February 16, 2007

A short checklist of things to do after the divorce is final

I offer these only as being the most general actions that should be taken. More specific answers require a look at the Decree.

1. Change your Will.
2. Change any insurance policies where the beneficiary is your now former spouse.
3. If you are the wife and got your name changed, make sure that Social Security and the Bureau of Motor Vehicles issue new cards to you with your new name.
4. Any changes of title or deeds need to be completed as soon as possible.

If you do not have a Will and you do have children, I recommend very strongly that you get a Will. Think about these scenarios: 1) you are the custodial parent and you do not want your former spouse to have custody of the child.; 2) you are the custodial parent and your former spouse dies before you do; and/or 3) you remarry or your spouse remarries. All three scenarios require some basic estate planning which this office can do for you.

First, understand that you cannot use a Will to keep a non-custodial parent from getting custody of the children after your death. See my post here on why not. However, you can use a Will to nominate a guardian for the children. That guardian can petition the court for custody of the children. That takes care of the first scenario. A Will nominating a guardian also takes care of the second scenario. I strongly recommend anyone with children under 18 years of age have a Will which provides for a guardianship of the children - even if there is no great amounts of property.

The third scenario involves more choices but a serious discussion is needed about estate planning for the children of the previous marriage if you or your former spouse remarries. Unlike the first two scenarios, this one does require that you have assets that you want to pass along to your children.

No comments: