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Getting your financial house in order

If your marriage is failing in California and you know it's not going to end with anything less than a divorce, it's time for you to get your financial house in order. This is a crucial part of the process, and it can impact a lot of the legal decisions that are made.

First and foremost, you may want to split up your accounts. This way, you and your spouse start putting your own money into your own accounts, protecting it and meaning there is less to split up.

You also need to look into any debts that you have. If you don't own your home or car, be aware of what you still owe. Look into credit card debts and find out how student loans will be handled. This is especially important if your spouse was always the one to handle the bills and paperwork.

While you're at it, consider what is owed—or what you expect to get back—in taxes. If you've not filed yet for the year, look into how you should file on your own.

If you and your spouse have a will, it's also important to decide if you need a new one or if you have to at least update the one you have. The last thing you want is to forget that your will says that your assets go to your spouse, who could still be named even after the split.

Check into anything with a listed beneficiary -- like a retirement account or an investment account -- and update that as well. It may be as simple as changing the beneficiary to a parent or a child, depending on the rest of your family situation.

Source: Ask Men, "Financially Prepare For Divorce," Terence Channon, accessed Sep. 17, 2015

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