When you’ve come to the decision to end your marriage (or perhaps your spouse has made that decision for both of you), it’s only natural to feel stressed out and emotionally fragile. Likely, the last thing you want to do is start combing through file cabinets, drawers and online folders for documents. However, it’s essential to start getting documentation of your marital assets and debts organized to bring to your attorney.
Following are some of the documents you should locate:
- Bank, retirement and investment account statements
- Mortgage and other loan documents (including credit card statements)
- Property deeds
- Estate plan documents
- Insurance policies
- Prenuptial or postnuptial agreement
It’s a good idea to make a list or spreadsheet of all of your accounts and other assets as well as your debts.
Don’t neglect assets that you know or believe are separate property. It will be necessary for you and your spouse to determine what separate property each of you has in addition to all of your marital property. If you’re not sure which category something falls into, your attorney can help you.
If you have any concerns that your spouse may get to some of these documents before you and take them, be sure that you make copies of everything. This is another reason why it’s best to start getting organized sooner rather than later. Even if you’re not certain that you’ll be proceeding with the divorce, it’s best to be prepared in case you do.
The better organized your documents are, the less time your attorney will have to spend helping you do that work. This will allow the two of you to focus on what kind of property division, support and custody agreements you want to seek to put you in the best position to move forward after the divorce.