The following information is not legal advice, and does not take the place of consulting with a licensed lawyer in your area.
Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos and his wife MacKenzie are divorcing after 25 years of marriage. With his net worth hovering around $137-billion, it could be one of the most expensive settlements in history.
Now, this is an extreme example, but one of the most challenging aspects of divorce is dealing with the financial situation, so we asked a financial expert to explain how to navigate those waters.
Here are some of Robyn Thompson’s tips.
Know your worth
Ignorance can be expensive. Even if you’ve spent years amassing a fortune with your partner, if you don’t fully know where those assets reside, what they’re worth and how to ensure you have access to them. Locate and track important documents including real-estate documents, investments, bank accounts and trusts.
Choose a team that will work for you
These are the people who are going to ensure that your future is secure and that you’re making informed decisions. One of your first priorities should be to separate your advisors, both legal and financial, to ensure there is no conflict of interest. Under no circumstances should you attempt to lock out, hide, or dispose of joint assets on your own if you’re undergoing divorce proceedings.
Make a list and know your assets and debts
Begin by identifying what you own, both jointly and separately. identify the the value of your principal residence and investments (including TFSAs, RRSPs, RESPs, RRIF). Under what you owe, identify your mortgages, loans, lines of credit. Any property you brought to the marriage is yours, but any increase in value of the property since the date of the marriage must be shared.
This can get complicated, especially if assets have been gathered over a long period of time. Expert financial and legal help is essential.