Attorney Ed Sherman, founder of Nolo Press, says in his book, How to Do Your Own Divorce in California, that if your divorce involves complex retirement accounts or pension plans, you’re best off seeking the advice of an expert in this field, such as an attorney or financial adviser. However, he also says that before seeing an attorney, you will benefit greatly by educating yourself on the topic for which you are seeking help.
When it comes to annuities, you can gain a good overview of how they affect divorce by the information at a website called Annuity.org. There you will learn about:
- Dividing marital assets
- Types of divorce settlements
- Annuities as marital property
- How you handle your annuities in a divorce affect taxes and fees
- Qualified annuities
- Surrendering or selling payments
Here’s a quote from their web page, that gives you an overview of why you need to learn as much as you can about this complex topic before deciding what to do, and why you should get the right kind of professional advice:
“Even divorce attorneys may not appreciate the difficulty of dividing up an annuity because of the way some of them are designed and because of the complicated tax implications of making a change to the annuity policy itself. The ramifications depend on the type of divorce that you get, the type of annuity you have and the various taxes and fees attached to your policy. Annuities come in many varieties, and many companies issue them. Each has its own set of restrictions about how couples can adjust the investment if they get divorced.”
In case you’re wondering why Annuity.org is providing all this information to the public, this quote explains:
“Annuity.org and other annuity buyers offer competitive rates for future payments in exchange for a lump sum of cash. While you lose a portion of the asset’s value when selling or surrendering, dividing a simple cash total can be easier than having an actuary determine value, trying to split the policy and changing your contract.”
So if you and your spouse can’t agree on how to handle the annuity, or just want to make things simple and save the cost of having an actuary determine the annuity’s value, you can sell and split the cash.