Once your divorce is finalized, you may believe all of your financial interactions with your spouse are finally settled. However, this may not be true if you have not removed your former spouse as a beneficiary on your individual accounts. Even if you have updated your will to exclude your former spouse, he may still receive some or all of your benefits if you have not named a new beneficiary for each plan or policy where his name appears.
Accounts and Legal Documents to Update After a Divorce
Your attorney should perform a full investigation of your accounts and holdings to ensure that all of your assets have the correct beneficiary designations. In most cases, beneficiary designations will supersede what is written in a will—even if you named your spouse as a beneficiary decades before your death.
In addition to updating your estate plan after a divorce, you should also consider changing the beneficiary designations on your existing accounts, including:
- Healthcare plans. The beneficiary of a healthcare policy is a separate designation from a healthcare power of attorney. It is vital to consider whether an ex-spouse will continue to benefit from a shared health plan, particularly if the ex-spouse cares for children who are also covered under the plan.
- Pensions and life insurance. Under federal law, spouses are the automatic beneficiaries of 401k accounts. If the policyholder wants to name an alternative beneficiary, she will need a signed waiver from the spouse. Some divorce agreements may require that divorcing spouses keep each other as beneficiaries on certain accounts as a way of protecting their children or dividing assets fairly.
- Retirement accounts. The requirements for changing beneficiaries on retirement accounts such as IRAs can be complicated, especially if the policyholder changes the designation before the divorce is final.
- Bank accounts. A named beneficiary on checking and savings accounts, mutual funds, CDs, and annuities will have automatic access to funds after your death, so it is vital that you designate the correct person.
The legal team at Kirshenbaum & Kirshenbaum can carefully examine all of your accounts and holdings to ensure that your beneficiary designations reflect your wishes while staying in compliance with state and federal laws. If you need more information on filing for divorce in Rhode Island, please get in touch with us today via our online contact form.