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Dividing retirement benefits can be tricky but is possible

When you build a life with another person, that could include many retirement assets as you plan for your future. If you decide to a get a divorce, those assets are now up for division, which could be a major concern for both of you. It's already hard to deal with the divorce, but now having to worry about your future could be an additional stressor.

So, what can you do to make this a little bit easier? Understand how each kind of retirement plan being divided could impact you now and in the future, whether it's through taxes or because of lower payouts later in life. For instance, if you want to divide your IRA, you should transfer it as "incident to divorce," or else both of you could face early withdrawal penalties, which can add up to a substantial amount of money. Additionally, the amount of money sent to the person being bought out will be taxed as income, which can be avoided with the right designation.

Another thing to think about when you're dividing your assets is changing your beneficiary designations. If your spouse buys you out of a plan, he or she should change the beneficiaries to his or her preference, and the same goes for you. Failing to do this can mean that much later, if something happens to you or your ex, the beneficiaries will be as they were when you were married. That could impact your future family members.

Your attorney can help walk you through the impact dividing your retirement could have on you, so you can make the best decision for your future. There could be a number of ways to divide your assets.

Source: Forbes, "Divorcing? How to Split Up Retirement Nest Eggs," Duncan Rolph, Nov. 23, 2016

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