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DivorceDon’t Change Your Marital Status without Updating Key Documents

September 14, 2016

By the time a divorce is final, the last thing many people want to do is to tinker with bookkeeping matters. Updating names, addresses, and beneficiaries is tedious. It is sometimes seen as unimportant; however, nothing could be further from the truth. Whether or not you are the person who initiated the divorce, it is critical that you take the time necessary to update your key documents right away.

Let’s start with the basics. You are in a new chapter of your life in which you are responsible for your financial and other matters. The only way you can meet this responsibility is by updating your marital status, address, email, passwords, and name (if applicable) everywhere you do business. Imagine these consequences:

  • A bill goes unpaid because it went to the wrong address; worse yet, the account goes into default.
  • Your ex accesses or alters your financial and personal information because you did not change the passwords for your online access.
  • Your doctor contacts your ex with confidential medical information because you did not change your emergency contact card.

Just as important as updating key documents is changing your beneficiary designations, particularly on your life insurance, bank and retirement accounts, and your will.  New Yorkers are lucky. New York has a law that automatically revokes property dispositions, such as in a will, as well as insurance and retirement beneficiary designations. However, the application of that law could have unintended consequences.

This is particularly true if either (1) you have not provided a secondary beneficiary in these matters or (2) you still want your ex to receive your property or serve in the designated role (ex.- executor) despite your divorce.

Moreover, what happens if you move from New York to a state that does not have such a law?

In order to protect yourself and your intended beneficiaries after your divorce, you should update:

  • financial documents, such as banking, brokerage, and credit and debit accounts;
  • personal documents, such as a will, trust, power of attorney, or advance directive;
  • employment documents, such as retirement account beneficiaries, tax withholdings, and emergency contact forms;
  • insurance documents, such as homeowner’s, life, and health insurance;
  • property documents, such as titles to land and homes or to significant personal property; and
  • school records, such as contact forms and telephone numbers.

Updating many of these documents may require you to provide a certified copy of your final divorce decree. For that reason, it is a good idea to keep several copies on hand.

At Clement Law, we provide you with experienced, effective representation in your divorce and family law matters. We guide our clients through divorce and help them achieve results that protect their family, and their family’s future, after the divorce.

Contact us or call (212) 683-9551 to arrange for a consultation. We look forward to helping you.


The information contained in this website has been provided for general informational purposes only and DOES NOT constitute legal advice; there is no warranty on this information and it does not in any way constitute an attorney-client relationship. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. All individuals are encouraged to seek independent counsel for advice regarding their specific situation and facts. 


Further, e-mails or other correspondence with any member of this firm does not create an attorney-client relationship without the explicit written agreement between the parties

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