How to protect your finances during a breakup


Lord of Penmai
Jul 5, 2011
How to protect your finances during a breakup

Nobody wants to think about their relationship or marriage ending. It's emotional and painful, and the last thing you want to think about is your bank account.

But leaving financial issues unresolved can be a costly mistake, and you might not truly realize the impact until several years down the road.

Here are four tips to help you protect your money in the unfortunate event of a breakup:

1. Pull your credit report
Your credit report will identify every account that is open in your name, as well as joint accounts you opened with your partner. This will give you a good starting point, and you can begin to decide which accounts to keep open, and which to close.

It would be worthwhile to pull your credit report a few months after the breakup as well. If there are errors on your report, or it shows that certain accounts were not closed, you will be able to deal with them immediately.

2. Make a list of joint assets and liabilities
Take a few days to gather and make copies of your bank account and investment statements. Make sure to include past tax returns, credit card statements, insurance and extended health policies, as well as mortgage statements or rental agreements.

If you have joint savings accounts, talk to your partner about how you plan on splitting the money. Then, close the accounts as soon as possible. If you don't already have one, open up a new account in your own name.

If both your names are on the mortgage, car loan, line of credit, or credit cards, then you are both responsible for that debt, and you will need to figure out a fair way to split it up. If the debt is only under your name, legally, you are responsible for it.

Remember that interest charges can add up fast, so make sure you are both on the same page when it comes to paying your bills on a regular basis until all the finances have been separated.
3. Update your paperwork
If your partner was listed as a beneficiary through your extended health plan and insurance policies, or noted as your emergency contact, make sure to update that information on all relevant documents immediately.

Contact the human resources department at your place of employment as well as your benefits provider to advise them of the changes.

4. Have access to cash
If you've been funneling cash into a savings account over the years, keep it where you can easily access it. You will most likely need it to cover moving expenses, rental deposits, new furniture and other miscellaneous costs.

If you don't have cash available to you, consider opening up a low interest line of credit with your bank. It may not be ideal but access to money could help you out in an emergency situation.

If you aren't able to come to an arrangement that both of you can agree on, it might be prudent to meet with a financial adviser or a lawyer. Hiring a professional can help you sort through your financial situation, and come to a fair agreement.
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