How can you protect assets from divorce?

Jenny Handwerk |

How can you protect assets from divorce?

Divorce is one of the most prevalent cases in the United States, and the process is frequently tricky, emotionally intense, and cognitively exhausting.

Divorcing spouses may be angry or reckless. In rare situations, a spouse will destroy, conceal, or deplete marital cash or property obtained during marriage to avoid equal sharing. Being proactive and having a solid asset protection strategy is essential. 

After marriage, combining funds might make it easier to pay expenses and save money. However, sharing commingled assets might complicate the divorce process. Establishing a prenuptial agreement can help avoid complex financial disagreements if your marriage fails. However, if you do not have a prenup, it is essential to understand how to safeguard assets from divorce if you and your spouse split up.

Divorce is a painful, emotionally taxing process that impacts people from many walks of life. Physicians, on the other hand, may face much more significant risks. As medical professionals, you have put in years of hard work and enormous effort to establish a successful career and amass essential assets. 

When considering a divorce, protecting your assets and financial well-being is critical. In this post, we'll look at divorce asset protection measures designed exclusively for physicians to assist you in navigating this tricky terrain and protecting your hard-earned assets.

Identify the Properties of each of you

If your marriage is failing and divorce is imminent, create a detailed inventory of all the property you and your spouse hold. Total any jointly owned property, calculate your net worth, figure out how much money is in your accounts, and identify any liabilities and debts.

Gathering Financial Information and Documents

As you begin the divorce process, you will need to have a thorough understanding of your finances. To start, inventory all personal property and gather the financial paperwork and information your divorce attorney will require. If you do not handle the finances, bills, taxes, or accounts, you will need to perform some research to obtain this information.

Separate Property, Bank Accounts, and Debt

Another critical step is to divide assets and property, such as bank accounts, debt, and personal property, between you and your spouse. Open a separate bank account to replace your joint account. Maintain proper records of your finances and transactions and obtain appropriate financial documentation. Keep these records handy in case the judge needs them during court proceedings.

Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements

The most common type of asset protection in divorce is established before the couple marries and long before any thoughts of divorce occur. A prenuptial agreement, signed and agreed upon by both soon-to-be spouses, is a legally binding document that specifies the distribution of assets, potential spousal support, and other legal and financial issues in the event of divorce.

Consider a Trust for Divorce Planning

Trusts are legal arrangements in which a trustee administers assets for one or more designated beneficiaries. An irrevocable trust is a trust in which assets are permanently transferred to the trustee's authority.

If you seek strategies to protect assets from a spouse after a divorce, consider establishing an irrevocable trust. For example, a domestic asset protection trust  could be used to transfer assets to a trustee for your children. At this stage, the assets are not considered marital property; thus, your husband is not entitled to them.

Changing Beneficiaries In Estate Planning Documents and Retirement Accounts

If you have a will or a revocable trust, update them to remove your spouse as a beneficiary or trustee of your assets. If you fail to address this essential development, your former spouse may inherit or control your assets during your death or incapacity. That is a horrible scenario for many people who want to protect their assets during divorce.

The sums you have contributed to retirement plans such as 401(k), Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), and pension plans over the years may be among your portfolio's most valuable assets. Your contributions to such plans during your marriage are considered joint property and subject to equitable split.

These plans also allow you to designate beneficiaries to receive the plan proceeds in the case of your death. According to federal law, a spouse will always receive the assets in a 401(k) unless they sign a formal release and agree to name another beneficiary.

Divorce might cause problems if you and your spouse disagree on distributing assets. Having the appropriate professionals on your side might help since they can tell you what you can and cannot do when relocating or selling assets.