About five years after a colleague’s painful divorce, his ex-spouse announced that she was taking him back to court for increased compensation since, in her view, his situation had improved. The legitimacy of the ex-spouse’s claim is not the point here, but what the colleague did to prepare himself:
Immediately after the divorce, and despite his emotional exhaustion, the colleague sat with his advisors and, as the saying goes, made sure every “i” was dotted and every “t” was crossed. In this way, he was ready, not just for a second round with his former wife, but for the myriad things that can change in tandem with marital status.
Actually, there are probably few better times for you to reach out to your estate attorney, your CPA and your financial advisor. Because, once the divorce is final, it is essential to make sure that your legal plan, tax plan and investment plan are all updated, so that in the event anything happens to you, your wishes will be fully documented.
Your estate attorney should review your current documents and may suggest a new will, a new durable power of attorney and a new healthcare power of attorney. Whether your divorce was as acrimonious as a prizefight, or as pleasant as “conscious uncoupling,” you may want someone other than your ex to be your executor, have power of attorney over your assets and make major healthcare decisions should you become incapacitated.
Absent your writing the companies or plan sponsors and advising them of your new beneficiaries, you may end up sending an unintended gift to someone you didn’t want to.
Your CPA will need to review your with- holding and tax status on a go-forward basis.
Your investment advisor should do a full review on all of your accounts and your asset allocation, and update your plan so that it reflects your new circumstances, not your prior ones. If you received a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) distribution, these funds should be invested in a prudent manner, not left to sit fallow.
You should update your beneficiary/beneficiaries on each insurance policy, retirement plan, IRA and pension benefit to which you are entitled. No doubt, this is a cumbersome, paper-intensive process that can take weeks or months, but timeliness here is of the essence. Absent your writing the companies or plan sponsors and advising them of your new beneficiaries, you may end up sending an unintended gift to someone you didn’t want to.
Also, consider obtaining copies of your credit report to make sure that all joint credit cards and/or lines of credit have been closed.
Finally, move forward. Thank everyone who supported you through the process – you may even want to have a lunch or dinner and celebrate. And get active–go to the gym, travel and set some new goals. As the John Prine song says, “Change the shape that I’m in, and get back in the game, and start playing again.”
Mark C. Hutchinson, CFA is a Financial Advisor with UBS Financial Services Inc. in Chicago. UBS Financial Services Inc. Financial Advisor(s) engage Worth to feature this article. As a firm providing wealth management services to clients, we offer both investment advisory and brokerage services. These services are separate and distinct, differ in material ways and are governed by different laws and separate contracts. For more information on the distinctions between our brokerage and investment advisory services, please speak with your Financial Advisor or visit our website at ubs.com/workingwithus. The strategies and/or investments referenced may not be suitable for all investors. UBS Financial Services Inc., its affiliates and its employees are not in the business of providing tax or legal advice. Clients should seek advice based on their particular circumstances from an independent tax advisor. The views expressed herein are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect the views of UBS Financial Services Inc. a subsidiary of UBS AG. Member FINRA/SIPC.
This article was originally published in the December 2016/January 2017 issue of Worth.