6 WAYS TO PROTECT YOUR ASSETS IN A DIVORCE
You and your husband have been married for over 30 years. During this time, the two of you have acquired a substantial amount of assets, including retirement and investment accounts and multiple properties. Last week your husband asked you for a divorce.
In the midst of the emotional shock, you are aware that there are some serious decisions to make. Fortunately, all of your children are adults and have families of their own, so there will not be any custody issues. However, you are concerned with how the California court will divide the marital property.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to provide some protection for your assets.
Find a divorce attorney
Once divorce is on the table, do not waste any time in hiring an experienced California divorce attorney. A lawyer will help you negotiate a divorce settlement and get you through the court process. Remember, your attorney is there to argue on your behalf and to make sure that your interests are protected.
Open your own accounts
Since you have not worked in many years, your credit history is tied directly to your husband’s. Now is the time to open your own accounts in your name. Furthermore, take the initiative to start closing or freezing joint accounts. This will keep you from being partially responsible for any spending your future ex-husband does before the court finalizes the divorce.
Ask your husband for a full disclosure of all assets and debts that you own. Make a list of all of these accounts, as well as copies of past tax returns. Start looking at separate property, which includes assets acquired before the marriage or through inheritance. These items should not be included with assets that are going to be divided during the settlement.
Get your mortgage payments in order
Your mortgage company does not care that you are getting divorced. They still want their monthly payment. If possible, try to come to an agreement with your husband about the house for the time during the divorce proceedings.
Remember that you will have to share some items
The court usually considers retirement accounts, such as 401(k)s or IRAs, to be marital property regardless of whose name is on the account. This means that they are subject to negotiation. Be prepared to have to split these accounts with your future ex-husband.
Update your will
As soon as possible, update your will and adjust it accordingly. Usually, the law excludes ex-spouses from being listed as executors or serving as trustees or estate administrators. Be sure to update your will to reflect changes in administration and in beneficiaries.
Divorce is a complicated and complex process that you should not do on your own. Protect your assets by following the above steps before the proceedings even begin.