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Property division and protecting retirement assets

One of the most difficult issues that can arise when successful couples divorce is the division of property. The main asset types for property division include real estate, retirement funds and benefits, business and professional practice valuations, investments, stock options, life insurance policies, intellectual property, inheritances, trusts and additional property items of value. In all of the arrangements made splitting up material items during divorce proceedings in Pennsylvania, the retirement assets often get lost in the assortment.

The not-so-minor detail is that retirement accounts are often the largest asset for most divorcing couples. Overlooking or glossing over this asset could result in detrimental consequences. There are legal documents that exist to establish the boundaries for retirement accounts.

The process involves an overwhelming amount of details that require attention. There are also other factors to consider, such as tax implications that may do financial damage without proper designation. Ideally, tax obligations of any division or sale will be kept to a minimum, but it is a detail that is frequently overlooked. Beneficiary designations that are established in a pension or retirement account and forgotten may result in the wrong person receiving the funds after a divorce.

The emotional toll that divorce can take on couples is already a large enough burden. Understanding and interpreting the division of property and retirement assets does not have to be an additional cause for anxiety and stress for Pennsylvania couples. Seeking financial and legal knowledge in this area of property division can help to protect individual rights during divorce proceedings as former spouses attempt to move forward with their single lives.

Source:, How to divide your retirement assets in a divorce, No author, Dec. 30, 2013

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