Staying on top of your admin when you separate can be overwhelming, so we’ve put together a list of things to do when you separate.
Of course there will be lots to do, but these 10 things will get help you get organised and start building your new life following your separation.
Change Your Passwords
No matter how amicable your separation may seem to be, things can change very quickly, so it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Passwords and pin numbers to bank accounts, email accounts, and devices should be changed ASAP. Ensure your social media accounts are set to maximum security settings. If you use apps like find my phone, deactivate this if you don’t want your ex to be able to track your movements.
Do A Financial Stocktake
To get an indication of your new lifestyle, you first need to do a financial stocktake, by listing all your assets and liabilities – joint and individual.
Assets should include all cash, investments, properties, businesses, household goods and valuables and your superannuation. Liabilities will usually include your mortgage, personal loans and all debts, including credit cards.
These figures will not only enable you to plan your financial future, but will be vital when finalising your overall financial separation.
Make Copies Of Important Documents And Start A Finances Folder
It is of utmost importance to have electronic and hard copies of ALL important documents relating to your estate, stored safely.
Your finances folder (both electronic and physical) should contain all key financial documents, such as bank account statements, share certificates, title deeds, your will, insurance policies, mortgage statements, payslips of both partners, tax returns, superannuation statements, etc., as well as personal documents and copies of them such as passports, birth or marriage certificates.
These documents will become necessary, when establishing the couple’s financial pool before reaching any settlement. It is best to have two sets of hard and electronic copies and leave one set with someone you trust.
Update Joint Debts
Any joint debt, such as credit card, mortgage or personal loans need to be updated as early as possible, preferably before separating. These will have to be agreed between both partners.
Remember the more you can agree on during your separation or at mediation, the less you’ll have to negotiate or argue in Court, reducing your legal costs considerably.
Update Your Will
Wills need to be updated whenever circumstances change such as acquiring or disposing of an asset, change in financial situation, birth or death of a beneficiary and separation.
If you have appointed your ex as an executor or beneficiary, as many couples do, you need to update your will as matter of urgency, or your ex could end up inheriting your estate in the event of your death. You should consider getting legal advice in relation to updating your Will in light of a separation, because there are some specific rules around Wills becoming invalid after you divorce.
Don’t forget to also change your beneficiaries on your superannuation and any insurance policies too.
Review Your Power Of Attorney
Depending on the circumstances of your separation, it may also be necessary to review your Power of Attorney and any medical directives.
Equally important, you may also need to review the trustees of any trusts you may have.
Consider A PO Box
If you are concerned that your ex may have access to your mail, it may worth considering setting up a postal box or using the address of a close friend or family member for any post going forward.
If you end up in Court, the Court will need to have an address where they can send documents. It is ok if you do not want to disclose your address – but you will need to have somewhere that documents can be sent.
Work Out Who’s Going To Pay For What
With most marriages or de facto relationships there are always bills that are shared between the two partners. Before the separation can take effect, you both need to work out who pays for what until your financial separation is finalised.
In all joint debt, such as your mortgage, you are both personally liable. When one partner stops payment, the other can be held accountable, until the lender has been notified and a new arrangement has been made. You can speak to your bank about a temporary suspension of your mortgage payments until the joint debt has been separated and a settlement is reached.
Decide On The Living Arrangements
The most daunting and often contentious points facing a separating couple, is deciding on living arrangements. In many separations, there are usually children involved, complicating the issue further. Each couple will need to work out who goes, who stays, who the children live with, who keeps what and who pays for what.
Get Legal Advice
There is no doubt that there are so many complicated issues and things you would need to consider during your separation. It is so easy to become overwhelmed with emotions, clouding your mind and making it difficult for you to make the right decisions, and this can become extremely costly over time.
By obtaining professional legal advice from trusted family lawyers, it takes out much of the stress, relating to legal and financial issues, allowing you to concentrate on taking care of yourself and your children.
These are just a few of the things to do when you separate. For more help, get in touch with our team of experienced and trusted family lawyers in Perth at Hickman Family Lawyers.
We offer free 15-minute consultations via phone where you can find out more about how we can help you and all the things you may need to do when you separate.