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Don't forget to change your will and beneficiaries after divorce

Divorce causes a seismic shift in one's life. In addition to all of the emotional upheaval, the process presents quite a few decisions that must be made regarding changes to one's will and other financial instruments that require a beneficiary. These administrative tasks may be placed on the back burner when dealing with the more contentious aspects of divorce, but when finalizing your divorce, it is important to address the necessary changes without delay. Standard divorce proceedings usually address financial matters such as separating bank accounts and credit cards; once you have finalized the separation of such accounts, there are still other steps to be taken.

One of the first things to do upon divorce is to update your will, removing your spouse and ensuring that the document reflects any changes to accounts, or dissolution of assets, that may have occurred during the course of the divorce. This is also a perfect time to review all estate planning and tax strategies that you have in place, as there may be a more optimal route to reach your financial goals post-divorce.

If your retirement account is through an employer-sponsored 401k, your beneficiary will almost always be your now former spouse. Be certain to have them removed from the account and name both a new beneficiary as well as a contingent beneficiary. Do not assume that this matter is covered by changes to your will, as any beneficiary designations on any financial instruments, supersede your will. The steps necessary to make this change are fairly simple, and are typically made through completing and submitting a straightforward form to the administrator of your account. Once this occurs, be certain to follow up after 30 days to ensure that the new beneficiary information is reflected on your account. Life insurance is another financial instrument that will require you to change your beneficiary in the likely case that it is your now former spouse. 

Since divorce is often such an overwhelming experience, once you receive your divorce decree it is quite tempting to consider yourself finished with the process. This mindset, while completely relatable, is very much unadvised! Take the time upon the finalization of your divorce to update all financial instruments and ensure that your assets will be inherited by those you wish. For further guidance from a professional who understands the terrain of divorce, contact an experienced personal injury attorney. 

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