Spring Cleaning After a Divorce

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Spring has sprung: the days are getting longer, carrots are being planted, and the weather is getting warmer. The season has long been associated with rebirth and new beginnings. Divorce can be a new beginning for many people.
No matter how successful the outcome of a divorce proceeding, any contested divorce is stressful. In the relief of finally being finished, it is easy to overlook some of the housekeeping that should follow the dissolution of a marriage.
Anyone recently divorced needs to update his or her will. Oregon law treats a divorced spouse the same as a predeceased spouse. This can throw a wrench into probate proceedings. No matter the size of their estate, it is advisable that everyone update their estate planning documents following a divorce.
While the law will assume that a decedent did not intend to bestow their estate upon their ex-spouse, insurance companies do not. A judgment of divorce will not automatically remove an ex-spouse as a beneficiary of an annuity, 401(k), life insurance policy, etc., so it is a good idea to take inventory of any of these assets and notify the carrier of the new beneficiary.

The next bit of housekeeping to take care of is to notify the IRS of the change of marital status and any applicable name change. Getting this out of the way before April of next year saves a headache that no one wants. The IRS makes this easy: IRS Form 8822 is easily accessible online and takes just a couple of minutes to complete.
Finally, it is recommended that a divorcee get a new credit report after proceedings have been completed to ensure that all joint credit cards have, in fact, been canceled and that nothing happened to their credit while the case was pending. A single card can be easy to overlook when emotions are running high, and this step ensures that the control of one’s financial future is where it belongs.
These few, easy steps can go a long way in making life after divorce a new beginning with all the promise of a warm spring day.