It may have taken months or longer, but your divorce is final. You have received your divorce decree from the court. You’re free to move on with your life — right?
Not quite. There are probably still a few details you need to take care of. These are the action items from your divorce decree, and only you can finish these tasks.
Transfer any portion of your retirement accounts to your ex. If you divided up your retirement accounts in the divorce, one or both of you will need to make the required transfers. You should have received a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) as part of your divorce. Present this to the plan administrator to authorize them to make the transfer.
Retitle your assets. If you will be the sole owner of your home, you would ideally have it and the mortgage in your own name. In order to get that, you may need to refinance. You can generally retitle your car after a divorce. Close any joint checking or savings accounts and open new ones in your own name. Be sure to make any required property transfers. Take your ex off your car and homeowner’s insurance policies.
Update your estate plan and beneficiary designations. You don’t want your ex to receive the life insurance if you die, do you? You need to change the beneficiary designations on your life insurance, retirement accounts and any brokerage accounts. This generally takes a few minutes online or on the phone.
While you’re doing that, take a look at your will and estate plan. These may also leave your estate to your ex. Make sure you understand what your divorce decree requires in your estate plan and make any necessary changes now, before too much time passes. You will probably need to choose a new designee for your financial and health care powers of attorney.
Change your name. If you want to change your name as a result of the divorce, you will need to present a certified copy of your divorce decree to the Social Security Administration, the passport office and the Secretary of State to get new IDs. These will allow you to change other official documents to reflect your new official name.
Purchase any required health and life insurance. Some divorce decrees require one parent to supply health insurance for the children. Do not overlook this requirement. You may also be required to purchase life insurance.
Arrange to pay any child support and alimony. These need to be paid as required by your divorce decree.
Once you have finished all of the action items in your divorce decree, you can move confidently into your new life.