One of the situations that we see in many family situations is where one spouse is the primary caretaker of the financial obligations for the family. That person may have been in charge of paying the bills, setting up the investment accounts, making investment decisions (stocks, bonds, real estate, mutual funds, etc.), buying and maintaining insurances (health, life, disability, long-term care), managing the credit cards, and filing taxes during the marriage.
As you consider the impact of a divorce, we understand that if you have not been involved with these activities that they can be daunting to you and can cause a considerable amount of stress when dealing with these issues for the first time.
No matter what your situation, your divorce attorney, divorce financial planner or the domestic relations court is going to need this financial information. Some topics will apply to you and others will not. Take the time to investigate and list out your financial assets and liabilities. This inventory will help you and/or your advisors assess your financial condition and will provide a basis to make recommendations that best fit your overall divorce financial strategy.
It is important to identify all of your assets and liabilities. The court is looking to split your assets and liabilities in a fair and equitable allocation between you and your former spouse. It is in your best interest to be up front and honest – by that, we mean do not hide assets, income sources, or liabilities. You have the potential to be found in contempt of court and could have some very negative financial penalties imposed on you through the settlement process.
Below is a listing of some of the financial areas that you will need to identify and value:
- Real Estate (Primary Residence, Vacation Timeshare, Etc.)
- Bank Accounts (Savings, Checking, Etc.)
- Retirement Accounts (IRA, 401k, 403B, SEP IRA, Etc.)
- Investment Accounts (Brokerage)
- Physical Securities (Stocks, Bonds, Etc)
- Life Insurance Policies
- Business Interest(s) (Partnership, LLCs, S-Corps, C-Corps, Sole)
- Other Personal Property (Auto, Artwork, Antiques, Etc.)
- Secured Debts (Mortgages, Auto Loans, Etc.)
- Unsecured Debts (Credit Cards, Personal Loans, Etc.)
If you are unsure of how to gather this information, or are concerned that you will have a difficult locating all of the pertinent facts, you may consider hiring a professional financial expert such as a forensic accountant, certified financial planner, or certified public accountant to guide you through this process.
In the interest of getting a fair settlement, it is imperative that you get a clear financial snapshot of all assets and liabilities. This will provide the foundation to putting together a sound financial divorce strategy and will hopefully put you in a good position to start your new independent financial life.