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Retirement accounts are often overlooked during property division

When couples in California consider divorce, there are many aspects to consider, and it is not uncommon for some to want to get the process over and done as quick as possible -- even if that may adversely affect their futures. If the process seems overwhelming or intimidating, it may be beneficial to obtain the services of an experienced divorce attorney who also has excellent financial resources. It is important to keep in mind that financial decisions made during property division may determine your future lifestyle.

Valuable assets that should never be overlooked are retirement accounts, and if your spouse has had several jobs, the retirement funds could be substantial. All IRA and 401(k) accounts need to be identified, and in cases where communication between spouses have broken down, it may be necessary to contact your spouse's current and previous employers to obtain the required information. Your legal representative may have to provide court orders in some cases, but the information is obtainable.

Once all the necessary information is available, your attorney will guide you through the division of the funds. This may be a complicated process, as different retirement accounts may be subject to different state and federal laws. The split will commonly be equal, but the final figures may depend on the amount that was accumulated during the marriage. Following this process, the division has to be documented and legalized.

It is important to understand that you have a choice as to how you want to take your share of the retirement funds. Instead of taking a dollar amount, you may choose to receive assets of similar value. If, for example, the value of your share of the funds is equal to the valuation amount of the family home, you may prefer to keep the home while your soon-to-be ex-spouse will keep the retirement funds. To make sure your financial interests are properly protected during property division, the guidance of a California divorce attorney may prove invaluable in providing a comfortable post-divorce lifestyle.

Source: The Huffington Post, "The #1 Most Overlooked Divorce Asset", Daniel Sentell, Oct. 2, 2014

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