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Financial steps Washington divorcees may need to take

As tax season rears its head, Spokane residents may be scrambling to get their paperwork in order. Those who have recently divorced in Washington state--and those who are in the process of divorce--likely have a few extra financial tasks on their checklist.

A recent national column included a list of financial paperwork that is important for spouses to address before and after divorce. While it is, of course, very important for individuals to consult with their family law attorneys and or their accountant about these matters, here is a general list of tasks that may get you started.

1. Credit: It is important that each partner has some accounts open in his or her name only. These can be checking, charge and savings accounts. Whether you are engaged to be married, married, going through a divorce or divorced, this is important.

2. Joint debt: For many, this includes a mortgage. It is important to talk with your divorce attorney about how to move forward with joint debt after splitting up.

3. Divorce agreement: Many people rush through their divorce agreement because they just want to get it over with, but these are important and long-lasting legal documents that should be taken seriously. Work with a professional family law attorney to come up with the divorce agreement, and make sure to read the agreement, and have a trusted confidant read it too, before you sign it.

4. Power of attorney: Chances are, your ex is listed as your power of attorney. File for a new one right away.

5. Will: This is also something that you should do soon after getting divorced. Many of your selections may have changed since you wrote a will with your spouse.

6. Passwords: Change passwords for your computer programs, and anything else that you have password-protected.

7. Taxes: Talk with an accountant and potentially your family law attorney about whether you should file a joint tax return this year.

8. Financial details: Make sure you understand your financial responsibilities and those of your ex as they relate to the divorce. Who will pay your children's college tuition? Is there a time limit to alimony? Are you entitled to your ex's IRA or pension? Your family law attorney should help to make sure you clearly understand all of the details.

Source: Huffington Post, "How to Handle Important Paperwork Before And After Divorce," Ann Blumenthal Jacobs, Patricia Ryan Lampl and Tish Rabe, Jan. 25, 2012

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