Documents that you have been storing for safe keeping have a way of mysteriously disappearing the day after your spouse is served with divorce papers. If you are contemplating divorce, here is a list of documents you may want to locate and copy in advance. This way, you will have them to show your divorce attorney later:
- Marital or separation agreements: Gather any prenuptial, postnuptial, or separation agreements that you have executed with your spouse. If you have previously executed a marital agreement with your spouse in another state, make a copy of that as well.
- Evidence of your monthly expenses: This includes, but is not limited to, any mortgage payments, rent, car payments, utility bills, loan payments, the minimum monthly payment on your credit card accounts, and any insurance payments.
- Tax returns: You will need your last two years income tax returns. If you filed jointly, that will cover both of you. But, if you filed separately, you will need to get a copy of your spouse’s returns as well.
- Pay stubs: The last two months of pay stubs for both you and your spouse, as well as, evidence of any bonuses either of you has received.
- Record of other Income: Evidence of income from sources such as rental property, oil and gas leases, etc.
- Evidence Debts: Provide evidence of any loans you have taken out individually or jointly, any credit you have accounts you hold individually or jointly, as well as, an account of all individual and joint debt liabilities the two you have.
- Record of your savings accounts: Whether they be at a bank, credit union, or any other type of savings association.
- Securities: Copies of any stocks, bonds, and certificates of deposits or a must.
- Real estate documents: You need a copy of the title to your home, as well as, other real estate documents such as mortgage documents, lease agreements, promissory notes and real estate-related financial statements. In addition, you will need to show the record of the sale of any previous property that you may have sold.
- A list of the property you own: This should include, amongst other things, furniture, artwork, jewelry, clothing, dishes, books, rugs, and other home furnishings. Break the list down into 1) property either of you brought to the marriage, 2) that which was acquired by you as a couple, and 3) that which was acquired by either of you through gift or inheritance.
- A list of any items you may have removed from your marital home: If either if you have already moved out of your marital home, you will need to prepare a list of any items you took with you. Even though these may be in your possession, they still belong to both of you and are subject to division during your divorce.
- Appraisals: Any property or real estate appraisals you have had performed.
- Retirement documents: Statements with regard to your 401Ks, ESOPs, pension plans, and any profit sharing benefits. This not only refers to statements from both you and your spouse but statements from both current and past employers as well.
- Estate planning documents: If either of you has executed any wills, trusts, power of attorneys, health care directives, or any other estate planning documents, prepare copies of these also.
- Insurance documents: This includes life insurance, auto insurance, healthcare insurance, income insurance, etc.
- Titles to your vehicles: Whether they be cars, boats, motorcycles, ATVs, or airplanes.
- Business documents: Include any business documents from any business in which either if you has any percentage of ownership.
- Perks: Evidence of any perks you enjoy as a couple such as season tickets, country club benefits, and frequent flyer programs.
- Funeral and burial arrangements: If you are an older couple, you also want to include evidence of any funeral plans or prepaid burial plots you may have purchased.
Of course, your attorney can assist you in acquiring copies of any documents that you cannot locate. But, the more documents you can gather in advance and on your own, the more prepared you will be to negotiate a final settlement and the more money you will save in attorney’s fees. For more information, contact an experienced divorce attorney.