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7 Ways To Protect Your Assets During A Divorce

7 Ways To Protect Your Assets During A Divorce

According to statistics, nearly 40-50% of marriages in the U.S end up in a divorce. Besides being immensely stressful and emotionally draining, a divorce can also wreak havoc on your finances for many years to come. Here are a few tips to help you protect your assets during a divorce.

1. Assess Your Liquid Assets

It’s easy to become emotional during a divorce and attach sentimental value on keeping the house or car. Instead, you’ll want to focus on assessing the value of joint liquid assets such as savings accounts and investment portfolios. Receiving the house during a divorce proceeding may not be as financially advantageous as it may seem initially if you can’t afford the property taxes and upkeep costs. Finding a buyer can also be a hit or miss depending on the current real estate market.

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Make sure to assess the value of your assets correctly. For example, the value of an investment portfolio of stocks and bonds may fluctuate drastically over time. The value of a vehicle will also depreciate with time. You may want to focus more on assets that are less depreciable depending on how risk averse you are.

2. Consider Taxes When Appraising The Value Of Your Assets

Many people going through a divorce appraise their assets incorrectly because they forget to consider the tax implications on investment and retirement accounts. A retirement account is worth less than the stated balance because of the deferred tax payment owed upon withdrawal. If a party chooses early withdrawal, he or she will also be hit with a penalty in addition to taxes.

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3. Protect Your Credit Rating

Both parties will be held responsible for joint account credit card debt accrued during the marriage. It’s a good idea to pay this debt off and close the accounts as soon as possible.

You will also want to obtain a credit report from the three main reporting agencies; Equifax, Trans Union and Experian. This will let you know the status of each account on your credit report including if it is a joint or individual account, the current balance and payment history.

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If you have joint accounts you’ll want to pay them off and close the account. If you’ve added your spouse as an authorized user on any individual credit cards, you may want to contact your creditors and have them removed as a user.

4. Look For Hidden Assets

We like to think of our spouses as honest people but it’s actually quite common for individuals to hide their assets throughout the duration of a marriage. A business owner may add a friend on the payroll in order to hide income. Securities may have been sold without being accounted for.

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According to Los Angeles divorce lawyer Steven Fernandez, “Lying during divorce proceedings is against the law. When someone signs a Financial Affidavit, which is a formal disclosure of finances, he or she is swearing under perjury to disclose any and all information pertaining to income, assets, and expenses.”

5. Revise Your Will & Designated Beneficiary

If you don’t want your ex to receive any funds in case of your demise you’ll need to update your will. Getting divorced doesn’t automatically void your existing will. You may also want to update beneficiary information for any retirement, life insurance, and investment accounts if you don’t want your ex inheriting all of your hard earned assets.

6. Be Careful When Dating

Never move in with someone you’re dating before your divorce is finalized since this may affect spousal and child support payments. A judge may deem you as having more money available if you are splitting living costs with another person. If you do plan to date, keep it discreet. Dating during divorce proceedings may also fan the fire and cause your spouse to become more emotional and less cooperative.

7. Change All Important Passwords

Change the log-in and password for your online banking account. Your spouse may have access to old passwords and may be logging in to see what you’re up to and keep track of your expenditures in order to use it against you in court. Some spouses go as far as installing a key logger in order to monitor their ex’s online activity. Protect yourself by changing your password and installing anti-virus softwares that will be able detect spyware.

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Jacqueline Cao

Entrepreneur

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Last Updated on March 4, 2019

How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

Many people will suggest that the best thing to do with your credit cards during these tough economic times is to cut them up with a pair of scissors. Indeed, if you are already in huge debt, you probably should stop using them and begin a payback strategy immediately. However, if you are not currently in trouble with your credit cards, there are wise ways to use them.

I happen to really love my credit cards so I will share with you my approach to how I use mine without getting into deep financial trouble.

Ever since about 1983 when I got my first Visa card, I continue to charge as many of my purchases as possible on credit. Everything from gas, groceries and monthly payments for services like my cable and home security monitoring are charged on credit. Despite my heavy usage, I have maintained the joy of never paying any interest fees at all on any of my credit cards.

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Here are some tips on how best to use your credit cards without falling into the trap of paying those nasty double-digit interest fees.

Do Not Treat Credit Cards as Your Funding Sources

Too many people treat their credit cards as funding sources for major purchases. Do not do this if you want to stay out of trouble. I use my credit cards as convenient financial instruments so I do not have to carry around much cash. In fact, I hate carrying cash, especially coins. When you buy things on credit, the purchases are clean and you will not get annoying coins back as change.

I do not rely on my Visa, MasterCard or American Express to fund any of my purchases, large or small. This brings me to my golden rule when it comes to whether I will pull out any of my credit cards either at a retail or online store.

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I never purchase anything with my credit cards if I do not have the actual cash on hand in my bank account.

If I really cannot pay for the item or service with cash that I already have at the bank, then I simply will not make the purchase. Remember, my credit cards are not used as funding sources. They are just convenient alternatives to actual cash in my pocket.

Make Sure to Always Pay Off Balances in Full Each Month

The next very important part of my overall strategy is to make absolutely sure that I pay the balances in full each and every month no matter how large they are. This should never be a problem if the cash has been budgeted for my purchases and secured in the bank. I have always paid my full balances each month ever since my very first credit card and this is why I never pay interest charges.

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Using Credit Cards with Rewards

Most of my credit cards are of the “no annual fees” type, including one MasterCard on a separate account I keep at home as a spare in case I lose my wallet or incur any fraudulent charges. However, I do use a main Visa card which does have an annual fee because all purchases on that card reward me with airline frequent flyer points. For me, the annual fee is worth it since I do travel and I get enough points to redeem many free flights.

You have to decide for yourself if you will charge enough purchases on credit each year without paying interest charges to warrant a credit card that rewards you with airline points (or other rewards). In my case, the answer is “yes” but that might not be the case for you.

I occasionally use a MasterCard or American Express card on small purchases just to keep those accounts active. Also, I have been to the odd retailer that accepted only a certain type of credit card, so I find that having one from each major company is quite handy. Aside from my main Visa card which earns the airline points, the rest of my cards are of the “no annual fees” variety.

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So this is how I use my credit cards without getting into any financial trouble with them. This strategy is recommended only if you are not in debt, of course. In fact, it is worth keeping in mind once you’re out of debt so that you can keep your credit cards active and treat them responsibly.

What are your credit card usage strategies? Let me know in the comments — I’d love to hear what methods you use.

Featured photo credit: Artem Bali via unsplash.com

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