Collect Your Financial Info

Look at all the mail coming into your house and make a list of the sender and return address. Collect the addresses of stockbrokers, insurance companies, credit companies, banks, and revenue properties. Make copies of everything, including your property assessment, previous years’ tax returns, Notices of Assessment, pension plan documentation, insurance information, wills and trusts.

File a change of address notice with the post office to redirect your own mail to a new address to protect your privacy and to ensure that you receive it. When I was leaving my second husband, he was really ticked at me, and tossed my tax-refund cheques into the garbage. It took me a year to discover it was missing. A post office box or the home of a close friend or relative will work.

If you have a family safe deposit box, visit it and list the contents including cash and jewelry. Take pictures. Since separation can mean an immediate financial crunch, sock away some cash so you have some money at the ready.

Are you familiar with your spouse's business interests? Become involved and be aware of financial information regarding the business by getting full information on the business, including bank documents, loan applications, corporate tax returns and financial statements.

Create a complete list of all your family debts including credit cards, notes, mortgages, lines of credit, car loans, etc. Identify when each debt was incurred, by whom and the reason, along with who has been making payments, and the monthly or annual amounts. If you’re on the hook for your spouse’s debts – if you’ve jointly signed on his boat loan, her business loan, whatever – it’s time to get your name off the documentation. Cancel credit cards to prevent large purchases by your spouse. Make copies of all loan documents, mortgage applications, and financial statements.

Now it’s time to list your assets. Include whether an asset is held individually (by who) or jointly and the source of the assets, whether it was inherited or gifted to you, and when (prior to or during the marriage).

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