With so many decisions to make, a multitude of deadlines to meet, and seemingly insurmountable stacks of papers to review, finding what is actually important to you and your future is crucial. Deciphering the noise to understand where your priorities lie will help you move forward with a clear mind and a better idea of where you’re headed.
By now, if you’ve read through the entire series for women facing divorce or the death of a spouse, you know that we’ve advised writing down several pieces of information. It will be important in this step of the process as well.
In mapping your priorities, you first need to identify the things that are, in fact, priorities to you. It’s one area where you won’t be able to hand the job to a professional. Only you can decide what is important, and what is trivial.
Your priorities may range from acquiring a new living situation to ensuring your assets remain in your control. Whatever they are, small or large, be sure to list each.
Once your list is completed to the best of your knowledge, rank your priorities in order of importance. Doing this should help you recognize what you need to do, first and foremost, as you move through the process.
Write out questions you have about each priority. It will also be helpful to identify the person or people who can give you answers. Refer to your list often to keep those questions at top of mind when you speak to your information sources.
To assist in the creation of your complete list, here is an example of some priorities and the questions that you may have about each.
- How will this divorce/death affect the transfer of wealth in my family?
- Do I need to change any beneficiaries?
- Should I change my last will and testament?
- Is my spouse the primary beneficiary?
- Am I covered after the transition?
Power of Attorney
- Does my spouse have power of attorney?
- Who should I name instead?
- Will a divorce/death of a spouse impact my credit score?
- Can neglect by my former spouse affect my credit?
- What happens to credit products in my spouse’s name?
- Am I due any payments that would have been due to my spouse?
- Which assets can I access?
- Which joint expenses will I be responsible for?
- What will happen to my retirement plans?
- Am I eligible for alimony?
- What about life insurance payouts?
These questions, of course, are only samples. Yours may be entirely different.
Establishing your priorities during this difficult time is important. Understanding what you need to feel safe and secure in your future is a major step in your journey. Your list of priorities can serve as a sort of compass, keeping you on course amid a storm of emotion and change.