There are just a ton of legal, financial and medical documents you’re expected to keep track of to help protect and provide for you (and your family) in all kinds of different situations. It can be overwhelming to try to understand and manage it all - especially when you're going through the divorce rollercoaster of emotions.
Unfortunately, there are lots of people who don't bother with updateing or changing any document outside of the divorce decree. That's where the problems start. For example, if you were to forget to update the beneficiary to your IRA, your ex could inherit it.
Because it is so difficult to keep track of all the documents you might have and want to update when you get divorced, here’s a list of some of the more common documents you’ll want to make sure deal with when you get divorced. (You'll also want to review them on a yearly basis too.)
Retirement Plans (e.g., 401K, IRA, pension plan, etc.)* Retirement plans are monies that are set aside for an individual’s retirement and can be released to a beneficiary upon the death of the individual. You'll want to make sure your beneficiaries are updated to reflect your new marital status.**
Life Insurance Policy* A life insurance policy can provide for your family after your death and pay for your funeral costs. You'll want to make sure your beneficiaries are updated to reflect your new marital status.**
Will & Trust* These documents can identify the persons or entities that will receive your property when you die, for you to appoint a guardian for your minor children, appoint those you wish to manage your estate, and revoke or alter a previous will. Make sure your beneficiaries are updated to reflect your new marital status. You'll probably also want to review the guardians and managers of your estate.**
W-4* This document helps your employer to withhold the correct federal income tax from your pay. With your changed marital status, you might want to adjust your number of dependents to reflect your newly single status.**
Medical Treatment Authorization and Consent Form* This form is used in situations where minors are unaccompanied by either a parent or legal guardian. Because your children may be in different care situations than when you were married, you might want to make sure whomever is watching your children has the ability to help your children get appropriate medical care should they need it.**
Medical Power of Attorney* This document designates a person whom you trust to make health care decisions on your behalf should you be unable to make those decisions. You’ll probably want to make sure you update who this person is.**
Directive to Physicians and Family or Surrogates* A directive is designed to help you communicate your wishes about medical treatment if you are no longer to make decisions due to illness or incapacity. Most people have their spouse listed as the person to make these decisions. With your change in marital status, you’ll probably want to make sure to update who this person is.**
HIPPA Authorizations at each of your doctors* The HIPPA allows you to indicate who besides you may have access to your medical information. If you had originally filled out forms at a doctor’s office allowing information to be left with your spouse, you might want to change this at each of your doctor's offices.**
* The purposes identified in this table are just casual descriptions. For legal descriptions, you’ll want to contact the appropriate authority.
** The changes to consider are just suggestions. You’ll want to work with the appropriate authority to verify which changes are appropriate for you.
Your Functional Divorce Assignment:
Which of the documents above do you currently have? For each of the documents listed in the table that you’ve already got, take the time to review and update them.
Which of the documents do you not have? For each of the documents that you do not have, look at the purpose of the document and determine whether or not you want to have it. If you want to have the document, make an appointment with the appropriate professional to have the document created.
Where are your documents? There are some documents that you’ll want to keep handy. You’ll want to make sure that the appropriate family members know where you documents are kept. You’ll probably also want to make copies of the documents for yourself and family members in case getting to the originals may not be speedy enough.
There are other documents, like the HIPPA Authorizations at each of your doctor’s offices, which someone else will keep the originals of so that you’ll just have copies. You’ll want to keep tabs on these as well so you’ll have an easy time updating them next year.
Dr Karen Finn is a divorce coach and the owner of The Functional Divorce. She specializes in working with divorcing or recently divorced individuals who want to successfully navigate the confusion and uncertainty that usually comes with divorce. Karen helps her clients manage and work through the five facets of divorce to reduce their stress, find happiness again and start living the BEST of their lives.
To learn more about Karen, visit www.functionaldivorce.com/karen-finn.html or request a Complimentary Get Acquainted Call at http://www.functionaldivorce.com/compconsult.html.
This article was originally published at The Funcational Divorce
. Reprinted with permission from the author.