Getting through a divorce is already stressful and time-consuming, so you certainly can be forgiven if you just want to relax once it's over.
Unfortunately, your job isn't quite finished. Once your divorce is final, you will need to make some new plans for your future.
We're talking about estate planning. The odds are good that you have either never really considered your estate plans in the first place (assuming that all decisions would be made by your spouse) or you need to update them (since divorce doesn't automatically negate any previously written plans you may have).
Once your divorce is over, you need to address these issues:
- Who do you want to be named as your powers of attorney for medical decisions and financial decisions should you be incapacitated due to accident or illness? Your ex-spouse is probably no longer the person you want making those calls.
- Who do you want to name as beneficiaries on your insurance policies and as your heirs? Old beneficiary designations on insurance policies and other assets need to be updated so they don't pay out to your ex-spouse. Your will also needs to be adjusted according to your new situation.
- Who do you want to name as the guardian for your minor children? While your ex-spouse would likely be the first choice in the event of your death, you may not want your ex-spouse to control your children's inheritances. You can set someone else in charge of those assets -- and should even consider putting them into a trust until the children are older.
- How do you want your remains handled? It may be wise to pre-plan your services or, at least, write down your wishes regarding burial or cremation.
If you're still going through your divorce, make a list now of the beneficiary designations you need to change and paperwork that needs to be updated so that nothing falls by the wayside later. While it's certainly another chore to add to your list, it's still an essential step that helps secure your future.