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When You Think a Divorce Might Be in your Future, What Can You Do on your Own Now To Be Better Financially Prepared?

Although this is not a replacement for legal advice, there may be things you can do to better assure a fair financial settlement.  Build a financial file that you maintain outside of the home.  You may have a relative you trust to hold it.  Or, rent a safe deposit box if necessary.  You can make a copy for yourself and return the original of all documents.   This can be very helpful in proving the history of assets, debts and income.

Documents to obtain:  Account statements from Banks, Investments, Credit Unions, Retirement plans from current and past employers,  Pension plans from current and past employers,  401K plans, Tax Sheltered Annuities,  IRAs, Roths, Stock Options and any other assets.  Also statements from all debt including mortgages, car loans, student loans, personal loans, credit cards, charge accounts, 401K loans and any other debt.  Also keep a copy of Federal and State income tax returns for as many years as you can.  If self-employed, federal and state business tax returns as well.   All life insurance policies and statements.  Proof of safe deposit and post office boxes.  If you see documents and don’t know if you need them, keep a copy.   It’s better to have too much than to later find you are missing something important.

Nancy Butler, August 2011 ©