Divorce is one of the most stressful events that a person can go through in life, and it is becoming more common for people over the age of 50. When people in Pennsylvania get divorced later in life, they are more likely to have financial investments that need to be divided and accounted for before, during and after the process is complete. Among the tasks that should be accomplished are updating beneficiaries, gaining access to accounts, dividing investments and splitting retirement accounts.

Beneficiaries must be designated on a number of different types of assets. On some of them, a person’s spouse is automatically designated unless a change is requested. For that reason, it is important to make sure the beneficiary designations on any accounts are updated following a divorce, or the assets might automatically transfer to the person’s ex-spouse on death.

In cases where one spouse has been in control of the family finances, the other spouse may not know how to access important accounts. It is important to review all the accounts and to be certain about how to access them prior to divorce. Investments in taxable accounts often require special attention to divide because each of the parties may have different tax consequences with regard to particular funds.

The division of retirement accounts can also be complicated. Typically, dividing a 401(k), 403(b) or pension plan requires a qualified domestic relations order. These can be developed by an attorney or other professional. An attorney who has experience handling Pennsylvania divorce cases might help people who are considering or going through divorce by identifying and categorizing their different financial holdings prior to beginning divorce proceedings. An attorney may be able to negotiate the terms of property division or draft and file the petition to begin the divorce.