6 TIPS FOR FINANCIAL PROFESSIONALS WHEN DEALING WITH DIVORCING CLIENTS by Melinda Eitzen
Be aware of the titling of your accounts and ownership. Follow your company’s mandates and your legal department’s advice on who can access financial information and who can withdraw funds. Do not assume anything and be cautious of written direction that you can not verify. For example, an email or text that may or may not be from who it appears to be from. Obtain signatures when appropriate and compare signature to your signatures on file.
Do not allow change of beneficiary without signature of the spouse.
Copy spouse on all communications. If the accounts are joint and you serve both husband and wife then copy the spouse on all communications. That would be a good practice at all times, not just once you know a divorce is pending or brewing. That would help keep someone from divorce planning to the detriment of the spouse.
Participate in financial review. Insist/strongly encourage that both spouses participate if at all possible in your annual financial review with them, even if they need to appear by zoom or phone.
Avoid the temptation or the appearance of conspiring with the client that you have historically had more contact with if both husband and wife are your client.
Consult your attorney before moving money. Sometimes people move money around in an effort to “restore” separate property. Encourage them not to do that without legal advice. Often that is actually diluting their separate property instead of restoring it. If they want to move ½ the money out of the joint account into an account in his/her name only to “protect it”, they are likely sending a war cry that they did not mean to send. That could cause a much more contentious divorce. I discourage it.