Protecting Assets in a Birmingham Divorce

If you’re ready to hire a family attorney, there are many ways of getting in touch:

If you and your spouse are considering a divorce, you may benefit from consulting a Birmingham, AL divorce attorney. One thing an experienced asset protection lawyer will do right away is discuss protecting assets in a divorce. A lawyer will ensure you consider all of the assets you own separately and together with your spouse, from the obvious assets like your house, to the less obvious assets like life insurance. To discuss how to protect your assets during a separation and in the event of a divorce, contact Alabama Divorce & Family Law, LLC at (205) 255-1155.

If you have questions you would like answered without directly contacting an attorney, feel free to post them in our discussion forum. Also, if you are confident in handling your divorce yourself, we offer a fully automated divorce self-help program for a small fee. This ensures you have accurate legal information, up-to-date forms, and legal advice to guide you through the process.

How a Divorce Lawyer Can Help with Asset Protection

Once your attorney works with you to obtain a full understanding of the assets and debts that must be dealt with during a divorce, they can advise you on how to protect your assets. At Alabama Divorce & Family Lawyers, LLC, we focus on asset and wealth protection in every divorce case we handle. We know that during a divorce, it is easy to focus on your immediate needs and concerns. We are here to fight for your future, including your future financial health and your means of providing for your family.

We will advise you on steps you can take right now to begin to better protect your assets, including your money, personal items, investments, and real estate. We will also discuss with you the strategies we may utilize during the divorce proceedings to further protect the assets you wish to retain.

Alabama Marital Property Laws

When you consider a divorce, you may think you will get 50 percent of everything or worry that your spouse will take half of everything. However, Alabama is not a community property state, which typically splits property 50/50 between divorcing spouses.

Alabama is an equitable distribution state, though there is not a specific statute that says this. Instead, the use of equitable distribution during divorces arose from the common law, which means it came about through court decisions. There is no assumption that each spouse receives 50 percent of their property. Instead, the court determines a fair and just division of shared property.

When you file for divorce, you and your spouse must determine which assets and debts are individually owned or are shared property. The shared property is known as the marital estate, and it must be divided between you two. You have the right to decide how your shared assets are distributed. However, if you cannot come to an agreement, the judge will make a determination.

If you have questions regarding equitable distribution, marital property, and separate property, consider posting it on our discussion forum where attorneys can see it and answer.

Divorce Assets

When contemplating divorce, it is important to have a full picture of the assets that may be affected. When divorce lawyers talk about assets, they are referring to a broad category of property, including:

  • Real estate such as your family home, vacation homes, or rental properties
  • Investments in securities, bonds, mutual funds, and pension plans
  • Retirement accounts
  • Life insurance policies
  • Bank accounts and cash
  • Personal property, including vehicles, clothing, and jewelry
  • Authentic and valuable art

During a divorce, all of these assets must be accounted for. You and your spouse, or the court, must determine who owns each of these assets or whether they are joint property. When preparing for a divorce, it may benefit you to document your personal assets and how you obtained them. Only after this accounting has been made can the marital property be divided.

In addition to assets are debts. In almost every marriage there are shared debts, such as the mortgage, auto loans, and credit cards. All of your debts must also be accounted for and the owner determined. If there is shared debt, then you and your spouse, or the judge, must decide who remains responsible for the debt after the divorce.

Protect Assets Before a Divorce

If you are considering filing for divorce, you should learn how to protect your assets. Being proactive in this regard can make it easier to distinguish individually owned property versus marital property during a divorce. By clearly maintaining your separate property, you can avoid fights over who is entitled to certain funds, real estate, or personal items. Or, if those arguments arise, you can end them relatively quickly.

Two fundamental ways to protect your separate assets include:

  1. Do not comingle the property and debts you bring into the marriage, and
  2. Do not comingle gifts and inheritances.

The assets you bring into the marriage, assets you receive through gifts, and your inheritances are your own separate property. However, if you comingle these funds with shared property, such as if you transferred an inheritance into a joint account, then there may be an argument for those funds becoming marital property.

Two other methods of protecting assets, even those you acquire during the marriage, include:

1) Place those assets into a trust, or
2) Enter into a postnuptial agreement with your spouse.

You should work with an attorney to do this to ensure that the formation of the trust protects those assets in the event of a divorce. Also, for a postnup to be valid, it must fulfill certain requirements. You and your spouse should each have your own lawyer if you wish to negotiate and draft a postnup.

If you are worried that you have already comingled your property with your spouse’s property, call a divorce lawyer at Alabama Divorce & Family Lawyers, LLC right away. We are here to review your situation and take a close look at your finances. If you are preparing to file for a divorce or want to be prepared in case your spouse files, we can recommend strategies to begin protecting your assets during the marriage. You can also post your question or concerns on our discussion forum.

Divorce and the House

One of the largest assets you and your spouse may have is the family home. At Alabama Divorce & Family Lawyers, LLC, our experienced divorce attorneys understand how frustrating it can be to decide what to do with the house. You have a number of options. You and your spouse may sell the house before or during the divorce and divide the proceeds. However, a house in a divorce with no equity can be difficult to sell. You may need to go through a short sale with your lender’s permission or sell your home and remain responsible for some debt. Then, there is the question of who is liable for the debt. Do you divide it evenly or is one spouse responsible for a greater portion? If your home has no equity, speak with a divorce lawyer before deciding what to do with it during a divorce.

It is also common for one spouse to take on full ownership of the house, which may require refinancing the house after the divorce. Be careful before jumping into this situation. You may want to keep your home. However, you must be sure that you can afford to take on the mortgage, utilities, maintenance, and property taxes on your single income following the divorce.

Another option to consider is co-owning the house after the divorce. If you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse are on good terms, it may financially benefit both of you to maintain ownership of the house while one of you still lives in it or to rent it out.

Protecting your assets and overall financial health is a crucial aspect of a divorce. Our Birmingham divorce lawyers are here to help you navigate the financial complexities of divorce and fight for your future.

How to Protect Your Money During a Divorce

In most divorce cases, you and your spouse continue to work throughout a divorce. You continue to earn money. Your wealth may also grow due to investments, court verdicts, and other means. When you and your spouse are separated or going through a divorce, it is natural to not want your spouse to obtain any of this money.

This is why many attorneys recommend divorce and separate bank accounts. If you had separate checking and savings accounts during the marriage, continue to use these and keep your funds separate. If you had joint accounts during the marriage, set up individual bank accounts for the divorce. You may agree on how to divide and close the joint accounts, or you can leave them alone and figure out this issue during the divorce.

By using separate accounts from the date of your separation and on, you can clearly delineate between your individual property and shared funds. However, keep in mind, if you are the breadwinner and your spouse is a stay-at-home parent, your spouse may have a valid argument for obtaining part of your income.

Divorce with a Business Involved

Divorce and business ownership can be complicated. If you and your spouse opened and grew a business together, what to do with the business can be a contentious issue. Neither of you may want to sell or close the business, but it is rarely a good idea to keep working together. One of you may need to let go. When a family business is involved, contact an experienced lawyer right away.

You may own a business and assume that it will be clear that the business is entirely your separate property. However, this may not be true. If your spouse helped you establish and expand your business during the marriage, they may have a claim on it. While they are unlikely to walk away with an ownership stake in the business, their participation may be enough to give them a greater claim on the division of property during the divorce.

At Alabama Divorce & Family Lawyers, LLC, we are highly experienced in representing individuals in divorces that involve individually owned or co-owned businesses. Do not hesitate to call us to discuss your best options. If you wish to continue on with the business, we will do everything we can to protect this asset. If you have some questions you would like answered before you decide to call an attorney, we recommend using our community discussion forum.

Protecting Family Assets

Aside from protecting assets in a divorce, there are a variety of situations faced by the elderly including potential creditors, taxes, and the exorbitant cost of nursing homes. Fortunately, there are several asset preservation techniques that individuals can utilize to maintain the ability to decide how one’s own assets are distributed.

Successful asset protection, however, requires using specific legal tools and techniques to make financial decisions. Often, an experienced Birmingham family law attorney proves essential for clients who are interested in asset protection. There are also several key pieces of information about asset preservation that individuals should understand.

Asset Preservation Through Trusts In Shelby County

Asset protection plans frequently involve the use of trusts as part of an estate planning process in order to protect assets inherited by family members, loved ones, and other charities from an individual. Trusts are extremely advantageous in several ways. Trusts allow individuals to avoid the expense of probate, minimize income and estate taxes, protect assets from judgments, and plan ahead for long-term care costs.

Long Term Care Insurance And Asset Preservation In Shelby County

Long term care insurance is one method of asset protection. This type of insurance, however, requires that an individual make monthly payments which can prove to be particularly expensive. As a result, for an individual who has enough time to estate plan, long term care insurance is an excellent idea but this option is unavailable to clients who are in an emergency.

Medicaid And Asset Preservation In Shelby County

Many of the costs involved with the elderly and those interested in estate planning include long term care. Subsequently, many of the costs associated with long term care are not covered by Medicare or private insurance companies. The various rules concerning Medicaid in the state of Alabama are particularly complicated, which make the knowledge and skill of a talented attorney particularly important.

Individuals who implement Medicaid as a type of asset preservation technique will be able to: obtain a great degree of asset preservation, create a health care proxy who can make health decisions in the event that the individual becomes incapacitated, and at least partially cover the large costs associated with long term care like nursing home fees.

Risks Of Asset Preservation Strategies In Shelby County

There are several risks of which one who is interested in estate planning must be aware. These potential risks include the following:

Most do it yourself legal documents do not fully take into consideration the unique elements of an individual’s case, as a situation might arise which these legal documents are not designed to cover.

Some legal strategies if not done properly could leave individuals open to creditor claims and adverse tax consequences.
If an individual does not institute an asset protection plan in time, there is the risk that an individual’s case could be exposed to creditors.

Contact Alabama Divorce & Family Lawyers, LLC to Discuss Protecting Assets in a Divorce

One of the reasons divorces are so difficult is because there are several issues you need to address at the same time. You have to figure out who owns which assets. Then you have to decide how your shared assets are divided. Determining a property settlement can take weeks or months. Let our experienced and skilled divorce attorneys help and protect you throughout this process. Call our family law attorneys at (205) 255-1155 or contact us online.

Types of Divorce Cases We Handle

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