Matters the newly divorced must attend to

Events such as birth, marriage, divorce and death each involve unique administrative procedures which, in some cases, have to be attended to as a matter of urgency.

When a person is in the process of getting divorced, he or she must make sure that he/she obtains the correct legal and financial advice before the divorce is finalised. Rushing through the traumatic process just to get it over and done with could hold financial implications for one or both of the parties.

It is suggested that a 'to-do list' be compiled and the items ticked off as they are completed. It must be ensured that all instructions in the settlement agreement be attended to as soon as possible and be carried out correctly and fully. As time goes by it becomes more difficult, and sometimes unpleasant, to negotiate on matters that have not been finalised.

In most cases the lawyer will, and should, protect the interests of his client and ensure that all instructions are carried out. However, it is important for the person also to protect his/her own interests.

The cession of a life policy can be used as an example of what is meant by "carry out correctly". If the agreement states that a policy on the life of one of the parties has to be ceded in favour of the other party, the latter should make sure that it is in fact ceded and registered with the relevant insurance company and that he/she is not simply nominated as a beneficiary.

In the case of a cession full ownership is acquired. This is not the case with a nomination while the insured is still alive. He or she may cancel the nomination at any time without the knowledge of the other party, while this cannot be done in the case of a cession.

If one of the parties that have to implement certain actions, such as the cession of a policy or the transfer of a vehicle, emigrates or is declared insolvent or becomes incapable of contracting, other problems and delays could arise if the actions have not yet been executed.

The will, if any, must be revised as a matter of urgency. If a divorced spouse is a beneficiary in the will and this has to be changed, the Wills Act allows a three-month period of grace after the final divorce for a will to be revised or drawn up. If this is not done, the divorced spouse will be entitled to the relevant benefits at the death of the testator/testatrix.

No period of grace applies to policies in respect of which a beneficiary has been nominated. The nomination of a divorced spouse under a policy is not cancelled by a divorce and the revision of an existing will, or a new will.

Other matters that also require urgent attention include inter alia notice to an employer, pension and medical funds, amending existing or effecting new short-term insurance, applications to service providers such as the municipality and Telkom, and debit orders for the payment of monthly obligations.

Persons who revert to their previous surname must also inform all institutions where their existing surname is known. It is interesting to note that certain administrative procedures pertaining to marriages and divorces are very similar.

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