Taking the Next Steps Post-Divorce
By: Adrienne Rothstein Grace
Last Update: September 28, 2017
Signing the Papers is the First Step into Post-Divorce Life
Clients often wake up the morning after expecting that everything will be different, just because the agreement has been signed. They are usually no more prepared to deal with the hands-on practical issues involved in dissolving their economic partnership the next day, than they were when negotiations were still underway. They still need the help and support of their divorce team to move on.
Here are a few of the general issues that clients face, post-divorce. Each case is different, and everyone may not need to deal with every item on the list. Some will need all; all will need some.
I generally recommend that clients continue any counselling started during the process, until they feel they've turned the corner. Dealing with these issues may bring up some of the unresolved emotional issues of your divorce. You don’t have to do this alone!
Your attorney may not wish to take on making sure all parts of the agreement are implemented, and you may be so sick of seeing him or her after the long divorce process that you’re fine with that. Or you may not wish to pay attorney fees to take care of details that may be better suited to a financial professional or a parenting expert, for instance. A Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA) has been specially trained to deal with the financial issues of divorce, and can seamlessly step in to finish up what has been brought to a legal conclusion.
What to Review With your Attorney Post-Divorce
Legal Issues You Need to Review With Your Attorney
- Last Wills & Testaments – Do you need a new Will? Who should be Executor or Executrix? Trustee of any testamentary trusts? Have you done estate planning with both your CDFA or financial advisor and attorney?
- Children: What does the agreement require in a Will? What about a trust for minor children, naming trustee? Is there a need for a Supplemental Needs Trust? Who should be the Trustee?
- Life Insurance: Is an Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust appropriate? Who would be the Trustee? (There are more issues around life insurance to review with your CDFA, as well)
- Health Care Proxy – Who is named as agent to make medical decisions? Should a new Health Care Proxy be prepared?
- Power of Attorney – Who is named as agent to handle financial affairs? Should a new Power of Attorney be prepared?
- Retirement Accounts: What does the agreement provide for each of these assets? What needs to be done? Is a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QRDO) required? A QDRO is a formal letter of authorization sent to the administrator of a 401k plan, giving instructions on dividing the funds in the plan between the spouses. A QDRO needs to be signed by the judge who granted your divorce. A new account, in the 401k plan, will be opened for the designated (former) spouse, and the agreed upon funds will be deposited there. Has a QDRO been prepared? If not, when and who pays? Is there a professional designated to draft this order? It’s a legal document, and must be drafted by a lawyer, usually a specialist in QDROs.
- Real Estate: Release of Liability? Mortgage? Home Equity? Deed transfer, what kind of deed? Quitclaim deed executed? When? Professional identified? Who pays? Judgment search? Escrow required or refunded?
Check back next month for a listing of the next step you should take after your divorce.