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Your Divorce. It’s Over (or almost over)…Now What?

You’re Divorced…It’s Over. Time to move on. But often clients are at a loss how to “go it alone.” Like anything else in life, it can be done. But there is a learning curve. And the best way to start is to plan.

Finances:

What do you need each month? Preparing a Budget

During your divorce you filled out a financial affidavit, and the affidavit should have projected what your expenses were going to be after the divorce. Hopefully, after the divorce is over you have enough income (either after paying alimony or after receiving it) to meet all of these expenses. But the best way to stay on track is to create a budget. Start with the financial affidavit, and break down the expenses that you have each month.

First list your fixed expenses- those expenses that do not vary from month-to-month. For example, a rent or mortgage is likely to be fixed. A car payment is fixed. But there are some “fixed expenses” that you can potentially reduce. For example, you might not need 250 channels on your cable television. Or, you might be able to shave a little off your electric bill if you crank up your thermostat a degree or two, and make it even higher if you’re out all day.

Once you get your budget to balance, (i.e.: you’re not spending more than you’re making) congratulate yourself, because you’ve done much better than the .S> Government.

Change the title of your bank and investment accounts and credit cards/loans:

Chances are that you may still have some bank accounts titled jointly with your ex-spouse. Even if you were given ownership of the account in the divorce, you still have to have your ex spouse’s name removed from the account or he/she technically still has access to it. Some financial institutions will take one person’s name off the account. Others require the account to be closed and you must open a new account. Regardless of which procedure your bank and/or brokerage firm follows, make sure you take care of this before you forget. And don’t forget changing beneficiaries on accounts. Retirement accounts (especially 401Ks) usually name your former spouse as a beneficiary should you die. Not required now that you’re divorced, but change it while you remember to do so.

New Name More of the Same:

If you changed your name in the divorce, you will need certified copies of the divorce decree. Then you must notify and change your name on your driver’s license, social security account, passport, credit cards, bank accounts, employment, insurance and any other documents where you were known by your prior name. Best way to go about this is to call each place and find out exactly what you need to provide to them (definitely a certified divorce decree) and how to get the documents to them (i.e. snail mail or email). Make a list of what you need to change and start working on it.

Accounting and Taxes:

Divorcing changes your tax filing status, so it is a good idea to have your CPA review your divorce decree and determine if you should change your withholding allowances and whether you may need to make estimated tax payments. Also, there may be loss carry overs providing a tax break for you in future years, but there may also be capital gains that will subject you to additional taxes if you sell certain assets acquire in the divorce. If you are comfortable with the CPA your spouse and you used during the marriage you may wish to continue that relationship. However, you may also want a fresh perspective, so do not be concerned if you want to retain a new CPA. You can still get any previous tax returns and documents from your prior CPA.

Estate Planning:

While you were married you might have had estate planning documents prepared. If you did have those documents, you probably want to make changes to them. For example, you probably do not want you ex-spouse as your health care surrogate, or to have power of attorney over your wellbeing and assets, and certainly not to inherit from your estate. And, if you did not have estate planning documents before, now is the time to do that. Nobody likes to talk about these things, but don’t wait or it may be too late. Estate planning is not only for the wealthy. Everyone should have a health care surrogate, durable power of attorney (in case you cannot make your own decisions due to accident or illness), living will/advanced directive and a will and/or trust.

Health Insurance:

You may be fortunate enough to work for a company that provides good health insurance and subsidies the premium. However, if not, you need to make getting health insurance a priority. Granted, most health insurance outside of employment these days provides horrible coverage and is expenses. Nonetheless, having an illness and no coverage is worse.

Property Insurance:

If you own a home with a mortgage, the lender will require property insurance. But if you don’t take care of the insurance yourself, the lender will buy you insurance and, guaranteed, it will cost a lot more. If you are retaining a marital home in your name alone, make sure the policy has been changed to reflect that your spouse is no longer insurance. You should review your policy and determine if you have enough coverage or too much. There may be ways to reduce your cost of insurance without sacrificing coverage. Also, if you don’t own a home, you should still have renter’s insurance. It is very reasonable and provides coverage, depending on the policy, for theft and other losses that could happen. Underwriter

Life Insurance:

What happens if you die…and you have children or someone else who you are supporting? Well, if you are fortunate enough to have a large enough estate to financially take care of your children without your income, then life insurance may not be a “must.” But, at a minimum, you should have a term life insurance policy that would provide support for your loved ones if you pass. Term insurance is relatively affordable, depending on your age and health, and the amount of the death benefit. However, a knowledgeable insurance agent can help you select the right type of life insurance for you particular situation.

Yes, there are quite a few things to think about and a lot of actions to take. But the sooner you start the sooner you’ll be done. And don’t hesitate to ask for help. Your attorney and financial professionals are here to help.

For more information on divorce and moving on contact us at www. vovalaw.com or subscribe to our YouTube Channel: visit Vova Family and Divorce Law South Florida

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