TIP 1 – SEEK IMMEDIATE LEGAL ADVICE
You should arrange to meet a family lawyer as soon as possible after separation.
We recommend that you and your former partner each receive independent legal advice before trying to reach an agreement about how you will divide your assets.
No, this isn’t us lawyers trying to make money off you; it is to ensure that any agreement you reach is both fair and workable. This means you and your former partner must be aware of your rights and responsibilities.
TIP 2 – PROTECT YOUR FAMILY HOME
Caveat – If your home is only in your former partner’s name, talk to your lawyer about whether you need to protect the home with a caveat. A caveat is a formal notice lodged on real property which prevents any person (including the legal owner) from dealing with the property. For example, selling, transferring, refinancing or drawing on the equity of a property.
Mortgage – Work out a plan with your former partner to cover mortgage repayments. Contact your bank and discuss available options.
Redraw – Consider cancelling any redraw options on your home loan or ask the bank to require joint signatures for any withdrawals.
Utility bills – Work out a plan with your former spouse to cover these bills. If you are staying in the home and paying those bills, put all utility bills (phone, internet, electricity, gas) in your name only. If you are moving out, take your name off those bills.
TIP 3 – PROTECT YOUR BANK ACCOUNTS
Bank accounts – Open a bank account in your name only and have your income paid into this account.
Joint accounts – Speak with your bank about requiring joint signatures for any withdrawals from those accounts.
TIP 4 – PROTECT YOUR INFORMATION & DOCUMENTS
Collect important documents – You (and your former partner) will need to collect financial documents. Speak with your lawyer about what documents will be needed for your case, as it will vary depending on your specific financial affairs.
PINs and passwords – Consider changing your PINs and passwords if your former partner may know them or could guess them.
Safe storage of your documents – Set up a new email address or change the password on your existing email account. Consider setting up a PO Box if you need a secure location for your mail.
TIP 5 – REVIEW YOUR ESTATE PLANNING AFFAIRS
You should, as soon as possible, arrange to meet an estate lawyer to discuss how a separation may impact your estate planning affairs and in particular, the following documents:
Will – Consider creating or updating your will to ensure that it reflects your current wishes.
Power of attorney – Consider creating or updating any power of attorney you have in place.
Superannuation – Consider updating the beneficiaries of your superannuation to make sure any payment will go to the person you want.
Life insurance – Consider updating your life insurance policies so you have the right cover and check if the beneficiaries need to change.
WOULD YOU LIKE FURTHER INFORMATION?
At Martens Legal we can assist you with both your family and estate law affairs.
The information contained on this site is for general guidance only. No person should act or refrain from acting on the basis of such information. Appropriate professional advice should be sought based upon your particular circumstances.