Perhaps you and your spouse have decided to end your marriage. There are significant assets involved, and your next step is to seek legal counsel.
A high-asset divorce can be very complex. Pulling together the appropriate documents will provide a useful starting point for your meeting with an attorney.
Illinois is an equitable distribution state, meaning that courts divide marital property fairly in a divorce, not necessarily split in half. The keyword here is “equitable.” If you plan to go through litigation, the court will consider several factors in making decisions with respect to individual assets and who gets what. Naturally, your main concern is about your financial future and what kind of income you can depend on.
Provide essential documents
You should provide your attorney with basic business and financial documents, including individual income tax returns for the past three to five years, bank statements, mortgage documents, property tax statements, credit card statements and proof of current income for yourself and your spouse. Your attorney will also want to see life, health, auto and homeowner’s insurance policies. Have you created an estate plan? You will want to provide your attorney with pertinent documents, such as your will, powers of attorney, healthcare directives and trusts.
From an investment point of view, here are the pertinent documents:
- Retirement account statements
- Pension statements
- Stock portfolios
- Stock options
All the rest
Provide your attorney with a list of your personal property: collections, artwork, jewelry, clothing, furs, home furnishings and office equipment, including computers. Indicate whether anything on the list is separate property that you owned before your marriage or if anything listed was an inheritance or personal gift. Everything else will presumably be marital property. In brief, you may not have extensive legal or financial knowledge, but you need not feel at a disadvantage. If you provide your attorney with a group of essential documents, you will save time and money, and you will have done your part to ensure a truly equitable split.