When it comes to finance, women still face a negative stereotype. They’re often perceived as being ignorant about money, hands-off when it comes to paying the bills or investing, and too flighty and impulsive to be fiscally responsible.
While this negative misperception is antiquated and unfair, a recent survey found that 65 percent of men make all of the financial decisions in their household without any input from their spouse. That leaves a lot of women blindsided when a couple decides to divorce. Because property division and other financial decisions shouldn’t be made without doing your homework, here are 10 steps for women to take as they go through a divorce:
1. Get your documents organized. Make copies of everything, including several of your final judgment or decree, and/or your marital settlement agreement.
2. Work with a financial professional. This is especially important if you’re not used to handling the household finances.
3. Settle your accounts. If you and your spouse have joint banking and credit accounts, you’ll need to close these according to your decree.
4. Retitle your assets. Change the names on the titles to your home, car and any other vehicles to reflect that you no longer own them jointly.
5. Change your beneficiary. Review your life insurance, retirement accounts and annuities to make sure your wealth transfers to someone other than your spouse, if he’s the beneficiary.
6. Pay attention to retirement assets. Roll over or transfer these assets according to your divorce decree, including pensions and employer-sponsored plans.
7. Update your will. If you don’t have one, now’s the time to make it. Establish a new power of attorney, health care and financial directory. Consider a trust fund if you have children.
8. Consider insurance. Make sure you have it, whether through your employer or a private plan. If you have children, this should include life insurance.
9. Review your health insurance. If you’re going to stay under your husband’s plan, make sure the company has your updated information and stay in touch every few months in case your husband makes changes to it. Otherwise, shop around now for your own plan.
10. Design a new plan. Now is the time to design a financial plan that fits your new life. Make a budget and stick to it, and don’t allow yourself to get overwhelmed if handling the household finances is new to you.
Source: Huffington Post, “Women And Divorce: Become The C.E.O. of Your Life (Confident, Empowered, Optimistic),” Jennifer Calandra, Jan. 23, 2012