Update These Documents After Divorce

A guest post by Dr. Karen Finn: When you get divorced there are all kinds of paperwork and documentation you need to update, change, create and just be able to put your hands on at a moment’s notice.  It can feel overwhelming to have to deal with all of this on top of the emotional turmoil of divorce.

To help make things a bit easier on you, here’s a table with the most common documents you’ll want to make sure you’ve appropriately dealt as you complete your divorce.

Document Name

Purpose of Document*

Changes to Consider**

Social Security Card

Personal identifier for individuals in the United States

If part of your divorce decree included a change to your name, you’ll want to file that change with the Social Security Administration and receive a new Social Security Card.

Driver’s License

Grants a person the right to legally drive.  It’s also commonly used as picture identification.

If part of your divorce decree included a change to your name, you’ll want to file that change with your state’s Driver’s Licensing office and receive a new Driver’s License.

Property Titles (for real estate, motor vehicles, etc.)

Used to identify ownership of property

Transferred ownership and any name changes

Retirement Plans (e.g., 401K, IRA, pension plan, etc.)

Monies that are set aside for an individual’s retirement and can be released to a beneficiary upon the death of the individual

Make sure your beneficiaries are updated to reflect your new marital status.

Life Insurance Policy

Provide for your family after your death, pay for your funeral costs

Make sure your beneficiaries are updated to reflect your new marital status

Will & Trust

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, revoke or alter a previous will

Make sure your beneficiaries are updated to reflect your new marital status

W-4

Helps your employer to withhold the correct federal income tax from your pay

Make sure to adjust your number of dependents to reflect your newly single status

Medical Treatment Authorization and Consent Form

Used for those situations where minors are unaccompanied by either parents or legal guardians. 

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.

Medical Power of Attorney

Designates a person that 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

Designed to help you communicate your wishes about medical treatment if you are no longer to make decisions due to illness or incapacity.

You’ll probably want to make sure to update who this person is.

HIPPA Authorizations at each of your doctors

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.

 

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 that they’ll keep the originals of and that you’ll just have copies of.  You’ll want to keep tabs on these as well in case you need to update the information on them in the future.

A guest post by Dr. Karen Finn:

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