Splitting up assets during a divorce can be trying. Deciding who gets what and if it is kept intact or sold and split up can result in a headache and a lot of hurt feelings. This stress is compounded when there is debt. It can be difficult to split up debt when a relationship ends. Most debt is assumed under both members of the couple names, as it is easier at the time. When a split happens, this becomes tricky. Who is responsible for the mortgage? Are the car or cars going to be paid off by one individual? Are both of you responsible for the family loan from dad? Hopefully, divorce ends as amicably as possible, but debt can complicate this, so here are some tips for making things go as smoothly as possible while separating with debt.
Keep the Status Quo
When you decide to separate you should keep the status quo as much as possible until you go to court. Joint debts need to be paid as they usually are, and unless you agree with your spouse to up payments on these debts, then just keep paying them off as you usually would. Keep spending to a minimum, as much as possible, and do not make excessive spending decisions on joint credit cards or lines of credit. If you spend irresonsibly after you have decided to separate then a judge can take that into consideration when splitting up finances and debts. Keep the status quo.
If you have joint debts, then you are both equally responsible for paying the debt back. That does not mean that you cannot be pursued by creditors, however, if your ex-spouse does not pay their portion. To try to mitigate this, you can contact banks and creditors that you will be separating from your spouse and that you are not liable for any spending your spouse makes moving forward. This can help protect you from future debts, but you need to understand you may be pursued for current debts owed by you and your spouse jointly.
Debt in Your Name
If you have debt that is not joint, then your spouse is not liable for payment of the debt, even if you used the credit to purchase things that your spouse uses, like their wardrobe. If you let your spouse use your credit card for spendings, such as groceries or gas, then you are also still responsible for it, as this is under your name. On the same hand, you are not responsible for their debt unless you have guaranteed it.
All assets and debt are included in calculations for the net family property when equalization occurs. Debt that you hold in your name is your sole responsibility, but debt that you hold together is split equally between both of you. If you receive more property, though, such as the family home, then more debt may be given to you to equalize things.
Discuss debt early on with your spouse when you are going through a separation, and if things are too heated to discuss debt and assets properly then contact a lawyer immediately so that they can act as a mediator between you both. Separation is never easy, but with the right team on your side it can go as smooth as possible.
Estate planning can be a topic that some people would rather avoid. Dealing with your mortality is not something that most people want to do, but if something were to happen to you, and you did not have a will in place, then it can be a nightmare for those you leave behind. When penning your will there are a lot of things that must be considered, and you do not want to leave anything out that may slip your mind. Working with a family law attorney makes the process easy, as they have the knowledge needed to set up your will without any accidental omissions. Here are some of the most important things that you need to consider putting in your will.
Choose Your Executor
An executor is someone that you either decide upon in advance to execute your will or someone who is appointed by a court to execute your will. An executor files the will with probate; notifies the banks, credit card companies and government agencies of the death; sets up any accounts for incoming funds and pay bills; files an inventory of the estate's assets with the court; maintains property; distributes assets; disposes of other property; and represent the estate in court. You need to talk to the executor you choose if you have selected a family member, and go over these responsibilities with them. It is also a good idea to have an alternate executor, so in case the primary executor cannot perform the duties there is a backup.
If you are a parent, this is the most important reason why you need to create a will! In the will, you can name who your children will go to in the event of your death. Whether your will dictates they go to your spouse, or in the case of both of your deaths a close relative or sibling who has reached the age of majority, having this in writing is incredibly important for the lives of those you leave behind if you die. You can also choose someone to manage your children's property if you want to leave it to them when they come of age.
Your assets, such as cars, property, and even special items such as a watch or specific piece of jewelry that just have to go to a particular person, need to be properly noted in a will. You have to describe the item in detail, for instance, the make and model of a car you are leaving, and the person's name that you are leaving the item to. Not every single item that you own needs to be included in the will, but be as specific as you need to avoid contention after your death.
Store Your Will Safely
Whether you store it in a safety deposit box or keep it in a firebox at home, make sure that your will is protected and that those who need access to it can do so. This is crucial, as the last thing anyone needs is to be scrambling and searching for your will.
The best thing that you can do when you are looking to create a will is to get legal advice on how to create it so that it cannot be contested in court. The team at The Knee Law Firm, Ltd. are ready to help you with estate planning. With our team you will have the security that you need and the confidence that if the worst were to happen, everything would be taken care of.