If you’re in a marriage that’s ending, you’ll need to gather certain financial documents to help you evaluate your assets and understand the financial position you’re in. Some of the information may be at your fingertips, but some might require sleuthing.
Start looking in the obvious places — where you and your spouse keep important papers in the house and in your safe-deposit box, if you have one. But also watch the mail, and be alert to anything from insurance companies, credit card companies, banks, brokerage firms and mutual-fund companies. Go to your employer for work-related documents, and ask your accountant, attorney and financial advisor for copies of any financial information they have, such as prior tax returns or documents on ownership of property.
Here are some suggestions for financial documents you need to locate:
• Bank accounts. Whether you or your spouse have joint or separate bank accounts (checking, savings or both), you need to know where the accounts are and approximately how much is in each account.
• Life insurance policies. Look for policies — those personally purchased and those provided by employers. At some point you’ll have to find out the cash value of each policy by requesting a printout from the insurance company directly or from your investment firm or employer.
• Records pertaining to your home. Monthly mortgage statements tell how much equity you have in your home and how much you still owe. If you have a home equity loan on your home in addition to the mortgage, you’ll need that documentation as well.
• Financial records on recreational property and vehicles. Cottages, time-shares, boats, motor homes, cars, motorcycles and trucks are all part of your asset base. If you have a mortgage or loan outstanding on them, you’ll need to know how much equity you have in the property and what you still owe. Recent statements from lending institutions should tell you.
• Antiques, collectibles, valuable jewelry, precious metals, important furniture. Make a list of everything of value that you own. You’re not going to have these things assessed at this point; you just want a record of what there is and where.
• Retirement accounts. Retirement accounts may be scattered in multiple investments with various companies. Be on the lookout for information and statements on 401(k)s, IRAs and 403(b)s.
• Stock and mutual-fund investments. Locate all recent stock and mutual-fund account statements, regardless of whether you and your spouse may have invested jointly or separately.
• Company and military savings/pension plans. If one of you works for a company with savings/pension plans, obtain records pertaining to the types of plans and how much has accumulated – this goes for military plans as well.
• Investment real estate. Make note of what you and your spouse own and look for any documents that tell you how much the investments earn or lose annually.
• Business interests. Gather any documentation that provides financial details on the business.
• Your last two years’ tax returns. Tax returns are valuable tracking documents to confirm income, profits, deductions and financial holdings.
Once you’ve identified your assets and gathered the documents, make copies, date them and put the papers in a safe place — at your office, in a personal safe-deposit box or with a trusted relative or friend.
• This article was written by Wells Fargo Advisors and provided courtesy of Ahwatukee Financial Advisor S. Kim DeVoss, CFP. Reach her at (480) 940-5519. Investments in securities and insurance products are: NOT FDIC-INSURED/NOT BANK-GUARANTEED/MAY LOSE VALUE. Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC, Member SIPC, is a registered broker-dealer and a separate non-bank affiliate of Wells Fargo & Company.