Having your assets inventoried can greatly reduce stress in the event of a divorce, because the division of assets can get heated.
In the course of your money conversations with your spouse, create a list of all your accounts and valuable assets. Not only does this help keep you both honest, but it’s work you’d probably end up doing anyway. You need to photograph or record video of valuables for your homeowners insurance policy, and if you ever work with an accountant or financial planner, you’ll have to produce financial documents. Think of this as a good way to get your homework done early.
It’s important to know which assets are jointly owned and which existed before your marriage, as state laws can affect what is considered marital property (and is therefore divided in half in the event of a divorce).
If you live in a community property state (Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin), be careful when commingling assets that belonged to you before you got married. If you do, they become marital assets and you only have the right to half of them if you divorce.
In common law states, it’s easier to keep property separate, because you can retain full ownership of an asset even if you purchased it while married. If you and your spouse jointly buy an asset or open a bank account, then it would be divided evenly if your marriage ended.
“What do we fight about when Grandma dies? It’s the china plate that we used at Thanksgiving. It’s the stuff that people fight about,” Park said. “Sometimes it helps if you can put it on paper and turn it into a task. That takes the emotion out. If we do this before that time of crisis it’s already done and more complete. It’s not as stressful.”