Everything you own and everything you owe are very important details to think about when you are filing for divorce. While you may think you can make a list of each fairly easily, it is not in your best interest to do this important task quickly.
You will need to make a list of the assets that you and your spouse own. This includes all big ticket items, such as real estate and vehicles, and all small items that may have been expensive but that you don’t think about very often, such as art or jewelry. This is why it is so important to constantly check over your list to make sure you have included everything.
Since you will need to know the value of each item, it would be helpful to create a form to fill in that has columns for the item, the value of the item and whether it was purchased before (and by whom) or after the marriage. You will be surprised how much easier your divorce will be if you have all of this information in one place.
Often, the family home is the first thing most people think of when asked what they own. Also write down all of the vehicles you own and any sporting or gardening equipment that may be in the garage. Once you have your big ticket items listed, start walking through your home and writing down what you have. You may also want to mark those items that you really want in the divorce.
Now comes the harder part. You need to find information on all bank accounts, insurance plans, retirement accounts and stocks/bonds you may have. Make sure to write down the financial institution where the account is, how much is in the account and the account number. You may also want to include contact information.
Once you have written down everything you own, you will need to start another list of the debts you have. This includes mortgages, vehicles, credit cards and any other loans you may have. Your debts are usually easier to do as you know what payments you make each month. The hardest part of gathering what you owe will be if your spouse has gotten loans or credit cards that you do not know about. Just do the best you can.
After you have your lists, it may be a good idea to take pictures of the rooms in your home or of expensive items, such as art or entertainment items. You may feel like you are overdoing it, but it is better to have information you don’t need than to scramble to find it later when you need it.
If you and your spouse are willing to work together, preparing these lists will be much easier. Never try to hide any assets or debt from your spouse – this is illegal. When your lists are complete, you will need to keep checking them for items you have missed. The more details you can write on your lists, the easier it will be to decide what you really want and need from your divorce settlement.
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