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Retirement assets in property division: follow the money

For many Houston residents contemplating divorce, it is overwhelming to even think about all the different decisions they will have to make. Even more momentous are the implications of such decisions for the immediate future, as well as down the road. For Texans who have retirement accounts, or who are on the brink of retiring, property division may result in even more decisions that need to be made and options that need to be weighed.

One important matter is the fact that, nowadays, a person's retirement accounts may be his or her most substantial assets. Home values took a beating during the recession, while many investments were diminished and pieces of tangible marital property may have even gotten sold. Retirement accounts, though, are still a major consideration in light of family transitions.

Most accounts already contain some sort of legal designation regarding a spouse's relationship to the funds within an account. However, many may have tucked that paperwork away and forgotten about it, and are now inundated with questions regarding beneficiaries. One of the first things spouses may want to ask their attorneys and other professionals is about timing. If one spouse were to pass away prior to receipt of benefits, for instance, to whom would funds go? Also, what are the consequences of either spouse remarrying, and does it matter when the remarriage occurs?

Another item to ponder is the distinction between dollar amounts and percentages. For instance, one can designate that a spouse receive one-half of a certain account, but does that indicate one-half of a certain balance or 50 percent of any balance? Finally, what are the tax implications for both spouses regarding each option?

Undergoing property division alone is an ordeal few Texans want to go through. The advice of a qualified property division lawyer is often one's best resource in both understanding and finalizing these crucial decisions and their effects on community property.

Source: BusinessDay, "How to divide retirement assets in divorce," Dec. 31, 2013

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Attorney Christine K. Lincoln

Christine K. Lincoln offers sound counsel and legal services to protect clients and their families facing divorce and other family disputes.

She will take the time to understand your individual needs and develop a comprehensive solution to protect your rights and interests.

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