Divorce is often a complex and challenging process. Spouses likely feel a range of emotions, including sadness, anger or even relief. Combined with the potential involvement of children and the extensive paperwork required for property division negotiations, couples may benefit from some guidance.
Likely the most complicated part of divorce proceedings is asset division. The larger the estate, the more intricate the required paperwork. What can a divorcing couple do to better prepare themselves?
Financial paperwork checklist
Spouses can prepare themselves for the asset division negotiations of their divorce by collecting the following financial information:
- Income information: This broad category includes income tax returns, payroll stubs, employment records, list of fringe benefits received from jobs, investment properties, royalties, bank statements, and money markets.
- Business records: Spouses need to disclose all information related to their business ventures, both joint and personal. These documents include business financial statements, business records, ledgers, etc.
- Personal property details: Spouses can prepare by listing their personal property and value. These documents include individual property tax returns (including out of state), deeds to all owned property, property appraisals, rental/lease agreements, titles to motor vehicles, membership documentation for clubs or fraternal organizations, a list of safety deposit boxes and their contents, and a comprehensive detailing of all personal property including a separate list of property owned before the marriage.
- Legal records: Spouses should include any judgments from any legal action involving that spouse, either as defendant or plaintiff. Include documentation of any rewards received or paid.
- Financial information: Negotiations will account for any financial statements from the last 5 years, including loan applications, brokerage statements and corporate interests. Include lists of all stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and outstanding debts or credit.
- Estate planning documentation: Divorcing couples must also provide documentation of all end-of-life plans for each spouse. Estate plans include wills, trust agreements, pensions, retirement and 401(k) accounts, and all insurance information — health, disability, life, etc. Couples may want to take the time to adjust these documents to reflect the changes of the divorce, paying attention to the beneficiaries of insurance policies or wills.
Consult with an attorney for more information
Spouses considering divorce have a long road ahead of them. Proper planning with a lawyer familiar with high-value divorce may make that road at least a little easier to travel.