Have you ever heard that term ‘they traded in for a new model’ when it comes to discussion around a divorce? While divorce is never emotionally easy, the more challenging part especially for women is thinking about how to get their finances set after the divorce is finalized. Many women don’t build a financial plan to recalculate their own goals and objectives, nor do they always fully understand the implications of child support, alimony, or how to best get the assets set up that they took over after the divorce. Here are five important consideration every woman should rethink after the divorce.
- Your Home – The last thing in the world you want to do is to sell the house that your kids are used to or move to a new school district. Just the thought of making new friends, new neighbors, and navigating a new school traffic pattern in the morning can be daunting. However, many women take the equity in the home as part of a divorce settlement and this means you truly have a completely illiquid asset. Thus, when child support and/or alimony runs out, will you be able to afford the upkeep and maintenance of the home as you do today?
- Your Beneficiaries – One of the biggest mistakes I see after a divorce is the failure to update your beneficiary information. It’s likely that your ex was the primary beneficiary and you never named contingent beneficiaries on your life insurance policies and your retirement accounts. It’s a good time to go back and determine what family members should be on your beneficiary designations as your IRA’s and life insurance contracts are an operation of law at death. They will go exactly to the people you will list on the accounts when you die. Don’t let your ex get the funds because they probably will if you don’t change this designation.
- Calling All QDRO’s – Until you go through a divorce, you probably won’t hear the term Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO). Retirement plan assets can be split up this way if done correctly without penalty through a divorce or mediation agreement. Most 401(k) and IRA administrators will be fully equipped to handle these transfers. In some plans monies can be paid immediately while others can only be done when your spouse technically retires. You should carefully consider the strategy in these accounts because maybe your ex was more conservative or more aggressive than you are as it pertains to how risky your investments should be depending on your goals.
- Reset Your Budget – It might be true that for the past 10, 15, or 20 years you didn’t even pay the majority (or any) of the bills. In fact, you never really had to live on a budget because you pretty much bought what you want. This is a great time to take stock and go through the math of exactly what inflows are going to come into your household and what outflows you will have on a monthly basis. Far too often, I have seen recent divorcees really blow through their cash because they underestimated the cost of living.
- Get Good Counsel – If you consider the main areas of legal, tax, and financial planning, now is the time to rethink who your lawyer, CPA, and financial advisor will be going forward. You may end up keeping the same people if you think you can trust them, but now may be the time to shift gears and get your own team of people in place. What’s most important is that your team talks to each other and gets your overall plan in concert. Look to get a Certified Financial Planner CFP® on the financial planning side and get an attorney who charges flat fee for documents instead of hourly.
Hopefully these five tips can help you avoid key financial mistakes people make in a divorce. You never know long you will have to take of you going forward, so make sure you get a good game plan in place.
If you worried or thinking about these issues, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I can help put a plan together for you.