FAQs about Changing Beneficiaries in Chicago

Going through a divorce can be very financially and emotionally taxing, especially when issues surrounding beneficiaries arise. In addition, there are state rules and guidelines that determine when it is appropriate to make decisions regarding your own affairs. To avoid confusion and uninformed decisions, it is best to speak with someone who has a critical understanding of divorce-related decisions.

At Nottage and Ward, LLP, our qualified Chicago divorce attorneys have years of experience working with people through their divorce and then helping them move on with their lives. Call us at (312) 332-2915 to let us know how we can help you.

When can I change the beneficiaries on my pension, health insurance or life insurance?

Does the same policy apply to making changes to my Will?

When is a divorce considered "final?"

What if my former spouse or I file an appeal after the final judgment?

How long do I have to wait before my divorce is final?

What if I'm still not sure about the proper time to make decisions and changes for my own life?




Q: When can I change the beneficiaries on my pension, health insurance or life insurance?

A: In terms of bookkeeping, you’ll want to make sure your spouse is no longer connected to any accounts, unless otherwise specified. This means designating a new beneficiary on all policies, benefits and pensions as soon as possible. However, Illinois courts prefer that your beneficiaries remain the same until AFTER the divorce is satisfied. While you do have the ability to alter the terms of your various accounts at any time, it may complicate matters if you change them while in the midst of divorce proceedings. Wait unit the dust has settled, and then make the appropriate alterations.

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Q: Does the same policy apply to making changes to my Will?

A: No. You have the freedom to rewrite your Will prior to your divorce being finalized. It is also highly recommended that you do so as soon as possible. There have been many instances where one individual passes away, while in the midst of a divorce, only to have their soon to be ex-spouse retain control of the estate.

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Q: When is a divorce considered "final?"

A: Legally speaking, a divorce is considered final when the judge says so. A judgment of dissolution of marriage, legal separation, or declaration of invalidity of marriage is final when that judgment is entered by the court. However, the long term financial, emotional, and mental fallout from a divorce can take far longer to “finalize”.

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Q: What if my former spouse or I file an appeal after the final judgment?

A: The divorce remains final, unless an appeal is filed, contesting the grounds of the finding or judgment. An appeal filed for a purpose other than those reasons, does not delay the finality of the judgment, which dissolves the marriage. As a result, an appeal does not necessarily prevent you from changing your beneficiaries.

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Q: How long do I have to wait before my divorce is final?

A: This answer changes for every divorce because it depends on the circumstances of the particular case, as well as the case load of the court. An Illinois divorce, whether no-fault or at-fault, typically goes through these steps:

  1. Petition for Dissolution of Marriage by one spouse;
  2. Serving the other spouse with a copy of the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage ;
  3. Motions to the court for action orders before trial (i.e. temporary child support, restraining order);
  4. Discovery, where each spouse gathers information in support of their arguments and financial issues that relate to the family;
  5. Temporary orders for decisions that cannot wait until the final judgment;
  6. Settlement, where both parties attempt to come to agreement;
  7. Trial, but only if both parties cannot come to any settlement agreement; and
  8. Final Judgment.

Depending on your particular circumstances, your case could be much shorter, or longer, than expected. If all terms, such as those relating to property division, child custody, and maintenance, are readily agreed on, or at least not contested, by both parties, the proceedings will move quickly and may take as short as one month. If no agreement is reached and each party consistently challenges the other, the proceedings will move much slower and may take years. In either situation, the sooner the divorce is finalized, the better off everyone involved will be.

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Q: What if I'm still not sure about the proper time to make decisions and changes for my own life?

A: A qualified family law attorney will be able to provide the counsel you need to make the decision that’s best for you and the representation you need to complete your divorce proceedings. To discuss your divorce case with a reliable legal professional now, contact Nottage and Ward, LLP at (312) 332-2915.

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Illinois Divorce Attorney Disclaimer: The legal information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice, nor the formation of a lawyer or attorney client relationship. Any results set forth herein are based upon the facts of that particular case and do not represent a promise or guarantee. Please contact an attorney for a consultation on your particular divorce matter. This web site is not intended to solicit clients for matters outside of the state of Illinois.

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