Clients are taken aback by the long list of documents they must produce. “They want all my personal and business American Express statements for the last six years…my 401K’s, IRA’s, brokerage statements, trust documents, life insurance policies, real property appraisals..!” Yes, document gathering is daunting. It can be full time job for a time. One client, who had hundreds of customers, had to link every deposit slip going back six years with the name of the customer. This while he was busy running his company. My document organizer went through his accounts and she linked each one with a deposit slip.

Don’t Leave without Them
Getting prepared for document gathering is your first step. If you are planning on moving out of your marital home, copy, scan (my favorite scanner is Fujitsu ScanSnap – it’s well worth $420.) or take all of your financial documents. If your statements are accessible are already downloaded on to your computer make a backup copy either in a cloud-based platform such as Dropbox or Google Drive, and/or put them on an external hard drive, especially if you are leaving the family computer in the marital home. Otherwise, set aside time to go online and download all available statements. Save them to Dropbox or your backup drive. (Trust me, you won’t want to retrieve them a second time.) Get a list from your attorney that will guide you in collection process.

Set Aside Time
Schedule time and days to do this but limit yourself to 2.5 hours maximum. It’s painstaking and you don’t want to make errors. Alternatively, you can outsource all or part of this process. If you’re doing it yourself, have a specific reward waiting for you after a couple of days of this. Clients sometimes chuckle when I suggest a reward system. That’s before they embark on the process. Once they do, they totally see the value in getting a massage after 3 days of document gathering!

Nitty Gritty
Set up files for each vendor/document type followed by the year – Amex Personal 2015 – then proceed to put all the personal Amex statements for that year in the file. Repeat that for each document type. Your lawyer will love getting organized files, and you’ll love not getting billable reminders from your attorney to send your documents in.