Completing a financial statement can often feel like a daunting and overwhelming task. Below are some tips to help you complete your financial statement effectively:
- Remember that your lawyer is always there to help you through this process: Use your lawyer to alleviate as much stress as possible. As examples: (a) your lawyer can write to your bank and request statements that you don’t have in your possession on your behalf; and (b) your lawyer can assist you in finding third party professionals to obtain values for certain assets (such as a house appraiser, jewellery appraiser etc.). You should also ask your lawyer as many questions as you may have to make sure you understand what you are being asked to do and why.
- Breakdown Tasks: It is unrealistic to expect that you will be able to complete your financial statement in one day. Instead, set daily tasks for yourself. On day 1, complete the budget. On day 2, write to your bank for statements, on day 3, work on date of marriage values and so on and so on. It is easier to complete one task at a time, then to tackle the financial statement as a whole.
- Collect the disclosure as you go: Each time you input a value into your financial statement, make sure you have the backup document indicating where the value came from. This avoids you having a completed financial statement, and then scrambling to retrace your steps to figure out what number came from where. If you organize the backup documents as you go, you will have a neat and tidy package to provide to your lawyer upon completion.
- Get feedback on drafts: It’s okay to send an incomplete draft of your financial statement to your lawyer to determine whether you are completing it correctly. In fact, doing so can either boost your confidence while you are completing the remainder of the financial statement, or fix an incorrect habit before it’s carried through the entire document.
- Add notes/explanations as required: A financial statement is a standard document, but that doesn’t mean that one size fits all. Sometimes budgets and assets can be complicated and they require explanation. If this is the case, you can always put an asterisk next to the value and add a note on the financial statement explaining the value.
- Annualize Expenses: When completing your budget, think of the expenses in terms of a yearly expense instead of a monthly expense. As an example, it may be difficult to figure out how much you spend on “gifts” each month. But if you think of this as an annual expenses, you can guesstimate how much you spend on birthday gifts throughout the year, Christmas gifts and gifts for events that you attend. Once you have your annual amount, simply divide by 12 and insert the value into your financial statement. Last, see #5 above. You can always add notes to your budget whenever it is required to help explain a value.
We hope that these tips prove useful and make it a little easier for you to complete a financial statement.