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Updates to important documents crucial in wake of divorce

Matters related to child custody and the division of assets typically top the list of concerns of individuals going through a divorce. In many cases, months may pass before a divorce is finalized. When that day finally arrives, many divorcees are eager to move on and start fresh.

While divorce often provides ample opportunities to begin anew, there are several matters related to a previous marriage and life that must be considered and amended. For example, a newly divorced individual should make updates to important estate planning documents such as a will or trust and also ensure beneficiary designations are updated.

Failing to take action to remove an ex-spouse from these types of important documents could have numerous negative implications. Say for example a woman with children divorces, but fails to update her primary beneficiary on a life insurance policy to remove her ex-husband. Years pass, the children grow up and the woman remarries. Upon her death, however, it is her first husband and not her second or children who reap the financial benefits.

In addition to beneficiary designations that are a number of other documents that likely need attention and updating in the wake of a divorce. In cases where a divorce decree requires a Qualified Domestic Relations Order to transfer the ownership of assets held in retirement or investment accounts, an individual should act quickly to make the necessary updates.

Additionally, it's important to make updates to documents that denote ownership. A deed to a home or property may require action by both ex-spouses. Likewise, updates and transfers of titles for automobiles or other types of motor vehicles are necessary to ensure ownership and financial obligations are clear.

Other accounts and documents that may need to be updated include bank and credit card accounts, utilities, driver's licenses and tax records. These are just some examples of matters to which individuals going through a divorce must attend. A divorce attorney can help identify additional documents or accounts that require updates and help ensure an individual’s best interests are protected.

Source: Forbes, "Divorcing Women: Don't Forget To Update These Key Documents," Jeff Landers, Dec. 4, 2013

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