If you are divorced you have probably divided the assets, changed your address and bank account, maybe figured out a custody schedule for the kids. There are so many details.
Today I want to remind you about one that is often overlooked, even years later: beneficiaries.
How have you handled beneficiary designation?
Your settlement might have divvied up retirement accounts and other assets but has anyone addressed that little line item? And for that matter has anyone talked to you about life insurance?
Take a moment to pull together your existing accounts and policies -- and your will (you likely have them handy right after the divorce proceedings -- ask your lawyer). Change the beneficiary to your children, your mother, your brother, your trust, whom ever you wish to receive custody of that money.
If you designated your ex-spouse as the beneficiary and you neglect to change it before an unexpected catastrophic event, then your ex could receive any life insurance payout or transfer of assets.
Let me give you an example, following his wife's death one man is devastated that the life insurance company cut a check to her ex-husband's children -- the ex had died since the divorce and the estate became the beneficiary. In another instance, a woman lost her house because her husband of 20 years had not changed his designation. These are real life examples.
We all think it will not happen to us and the unfortunate thing is that, if it does happens to you, it is your loved ones who pay the price.
WORD OF CAUTION: It is illegal to change beneficiaries while divorce proceedings are pending.
Beneficiaries are a detail often forgotten. In fact when I challenged several of my recently divorced friends on the subject and they each said they would "get to it." Yet several months later, and in one case a whole year later, none has taken steps to do so.
Especially if you have children, ask yourself: if something happens to you do you want your ex to have custody over the funds or designate someone else?
Allocate your money according to your wishes, before your situation changes -- and before you forget!!! Don't wait until tomorrow; complete a change of beneficiary form for each of your accounts/ policies today (unless your divorce is not finalized)!
For that matter, even if divorce is not a factor, we advise that you periodically review and update your beneficiary designations.
We can help you determine if your current coverage is still sufficient to your needs. Needs often increase after divorce, particularly for parents and care givers.
And a foot note that we won't go into detail on here -- if you have a healthcare power of attorney or living will, be sure to review your designated proxies as well!