If you have a lost a partner or spouse whether through divorce or death, being newly single can be not only an emotionally painful experience, but a financially difficult experience as well.

Below are 5 self-protection steps you can take to get back on track financially:

1. Finalize financial plans.

In the case of a divorce, you must ensure that the terms of any settlement are actually executed, including the retitling of financial accounts, the transfer of divided assets to your new accounts, transferring titles on vehicles, etc.

Be sure to notify your CPA and your financial planner about your new status, including any changes to deductions (only one parent can claim children as dependents each year).

2. Update your estate planning documents.

If you no longer have a spouse or if you have named your partner as an agent or beneficiary, you will need to update your estate plan, including your will, trusts, living will, advance health care directive and powers of attorney.

You’ll also need to update your beneficiary forms for retirement and investment accounts as well as insurance policies — and remember that beneficiary forms trump a will.

3.  Scour your credit report.

You want to be sure that any of your former spouse’s financial liabilities do not appear on your credit report.  You also want to check for any surprises, including credit accounts you might not have been aware of but are still responsible for in the eyes of the law.

4. Don’t act too quickly.

Emotion can cloud anyone’s judgment, so you want to give yourself time to grieve the loss of your spouse — to either death or divorce — before making any big financial decisions, like selling real estate.

5. Gather a support team.

As you move forward into your new life, gather a great support team to help you navigate.  This should include a financial adviser and a Personal Family Lawyer who share your values and can help you accomplish all your goals.

For more information on protecting yourself and your family, call our office to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk about a Family Wealth Planning Session, where we can identify the best ways for you to ensure the security of your loved ones.

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