What Documents Do I Need to Update Once I’m Divorced?
What needs to be done once I am finally divorced? Who do I need to update or notify? Lee Rosen, retired attorney and founder of the Rosen Law Firm, explains.
After my divorce, are there documents I need to have updated? Transcript
Hi. I’m Lee Rosen. After my divorce, are there documents that I need to
have updated? You’ve been through a long process. You’ve negotiated a
separation agreement and had it signed, or you’ve had to go to court and
have a judge resolve your issues. Whichever way you went, it’s taken a long
time. It’s taken a lot of emotional energy. You’re tired, and you’d like to
move on. Unfortunately, you’re not finished yet.
You need to deal with changing your name if you’re going to use a new name
after your divorce. Many women and, in fact, some men, change their names
when they get married. After the divorce, they like to go back to the name
they were using prior to the marriage. There are financial and other
documents that need to be updated. Let’s walk through what exactly you need
So the first thing you need to focus on is the name change. The name change
can take place as part of the divorce process. There’s a very simple
document that can be filled out by the clerk’s office, and that will take
care legally of changing your name. But then you’ve got to use that
document and change all of the related documents.
For instance, you’ve got to deal with your driver’s license and your social
security card. You may recall when you got married, you had to do some
running around to change your name at that point. Well, now you’ve got to
undo everything that you did at that time. So name change is number one.
Number two is your will. The operation of law here doesn’t solve all the
problems related to your will. And what you want to do when you get a
divorce is go ahead and have a new will drafted. You ought to go ahead and
get your financial life back in order. And so as a matter of routine after
divorce, we advise all of our clients to go ahead and meet with an estate
planning attorney, and to get their will straightened out.
And then finally you want to look at beneficiary designations. There are
probably a half a dozen places where most people have designated a
beneficiary. For instance, on life insurance policies, that’s the obvious
one. But also on 401(k) plans and other retirement plans and other benefits
you might have through employment. You want to check each of those
documents and see who is designated as the beneficiary and change it if you
don’t want to leave it as your now former spouse.
Unfortunately, that’s not the end of it. There are other things to change
as well. You may need to change your name at the doctor’s office, at the
school where your children attend, on your credit cards. The list is,
unfortunately, kind of endless, and you’ll probably be dealing with this
for a number of months after you get divorced. Just don’t be surprised by
The point is, don’t rely on your divorce document as the only thing that
needs to be done. There’s a lot of paperwork, a lot of things you’re going
to have to follow up on, in order to fully and finally get this behind you.