After you've located financial records to share with your RI divorce mediator or RI divorce attorney, you are far from safe in protecting your financial future. You need to be more pro-active. One of the most important protections that is most overlooked and yet potentially damaging is identity theft initiated or caused by an ex-spouse. Your ex spouse already knows your birth date, place of birth, favorite pet and first car. To avoid this nightmare:
· Promptly withdraw all written consents for the former (or son to be former) spouse to access one's medical records and financial records. Contact every bank, financial institution and medical care provider and provide in writing that you withdraw all consent for any information to be accessed by the former spouse. Cancel a non-trusted soon to be former spouse from making medical decisions for you.
· Swiftly change all ATM, credit card, commercial Web site and computer passwords to something totally nonsensical as your former spouse knows all the buzz words you have used in the past. Consider contacting all credit card companies and obtain replacement cards with new numbers.
· Quickly prepare a new Health Care Power of Attorney (Living Will or advanced directive) naming a new person to make health care decisions for you when you are unable to make your own decisions. Prepare a new estate plan and if you have under-aged children and do not believe that your former spouse (or soon to be former spouse) will use funds wisely, consider a trustee for your estate and for life insurance proceeds (the timing of this must be precise, as Rhode Island has automatic orders that prohibit changing the beneficiaries of life insurance during the pendency of a divorce).
· Rapidly order a free credit report to verify your debts. Check which debts may be held jointly with your former spouse and which are solely yours? Surprisingly, a year or two after a divorce, parties may unknowingly still share one or more joint credit cards. If so, one person's charges and late payments ruin the credit of the other.
These actions can be taken early in divorce planning; however, if not completed before the divorce, these undertakings should be accomplished when you receive your Final Judgment of Divorce.