Advice for Managing Wealth in a Divorce from a Divorce Financial Planner
Although the breakdown of a marriage has a significant impact on your personal life, it can also affect your finances. While it may seem overwhelming to tend to your financial wellbeing while grappling with the emotional challenges of a divorce, managing wealth in divorce is crucial to staying on track in the long run. To make matters easier for you during this difficult time, we’ve compiled a few of our biggest tips when it comes to divorce financial planning.
Find a Divorce Financial Planner You Trust
While the need for a financial planner is relative, we strongly believe that having an experienced divorce financial planner by your side is enormously beneficial in most situations. Not only will you be making proactive steps when it comes to protecting your finances, but you will have a partner in your corner for whatever situation comes around the bend.
A financial planner can help you put together a game plan, from assisting with investing decisions (like lump sums) and asset distribution, to putting together a plan that helps achieve equitable settlements for divorcing couples. (1)
Create a Strategy for Assets
There is no one “right way” to split assets in divorce, as the decisions you make are entirely dependent on your financial situation. It can be a particularly challenging matter to tackle when you and your spouse share an array of significant assets. Homes, rental properties, retirement and pension plans, stock options, restricted stock, deferred compensation, brokerage accounts, businesses, and more can all play a role in financial management for divorce. Even for couples who are splitting on amicable terms, splitting assets can be a tense challenge.
When coming up with a feasible and profitable strategy for assets during divorce, it’s important to consider your long-term and short-term financial security and how they’re related to each of your assets. Liquidity, cost basis, and tax implications are just a few things one needs to consider per asset. An experienced divorce financial planner will be well-versed in how to analyze your assets and cultivate a plan that helps you emerge from your divorce in a strong financial position.
How Can I Ensure a Fair Division of Property?
Assets need to be valued to determine their worth. Oftentimes, especially with individuals who own high-value assets, they will seek one (or more!) third-party assessors to determine the value of their assets. For example, if you have property like antiques, fine art, collectibles, and more, they will need to find a specialist to determine the value of those assets. On the other hand, to determine the worth of an asset such as a business you could need an entirely different financial expert.
Dividing Up Real Estate
Working with your ex-spouse to come to a decision about dividing the real estate you share can be one of the more difficult conversations you can have when enduring divorce.
Most couples have two options (and, of course, if you have more than one real estate property that you and your spouse share, the matter becomes more complicated).
Sell the House
The first thing you need to consider when deciding to sell any property is what it’s worth after paying off the mortgage, broker’s fees, and taxes. Moreover, getting a fair and accurate appraisal is another crucial step to divide the property equitably.
Keep the House
Managing wealth in divorce requires strong strategic skills. Ask yourself whether you can afford to keep the house after considering mortgage, real estate taxes, homeowners’ insurance, and day-to-day upkeep. You may need to refinance the mortgage with your new financial profile, or you may be able to assume the existing mortgage if you take your ex-spouse off the loan (that is, if the lender allows it at all).
Retirement savings are among the most valuable assets many people own. Thus, it’s an important item in your divorce financial planning checklist. For example, if your spouse has an employer-sponsored retirement plan such as a 401(k) or pension plan, you’re legally entitled to part of that balance (as long as you don’t have a prenuptial agreement, that is). The same goes for your spouse if you have an employer-sponsored retirement plan.
Did You KNow?
A qualified domestic relations order can protect you under the circumstances that your spouse was the primary earner of the household and you’re scrambling for a solution that will protect your share of their retirement account. A QDRO is a court order related to child support, alimony, or property rights, and can also instruct your spouse’s pension plan on how to pay you your share of plan benefits.(3)
There’s no other way to say it–divorce is expensive. Right now, you probably have two incomes paying for one set of expenses. After the divorce finalizes, you’ll be on your own—paying all of your bills and other costs by yourself. That’s a big shift, and so a big plan must be put into place to make sure you don’t end up in a financial pickle.
When evaluating and creating your new budget to plan for a divorce financially, you must keep in mind that it must include the costs of the divorce itself alongside your typical monthly expenses.
As divorce financial planners, we recommend taking the following steps:
- Review your income, retirement accounts, investment portfolio, and insurance policies
- Create a budget that coincides with your income and projected monthly expenses.
- Make sure to include both your debts and the debts that you will be sharing with your soon-to-be ex-spouse.
- Identify gaps in your budget where you come up short and see where you can make cuts to cover the difference.
This process can oftentimes be relatively overwhelming, especially if you have a large investment portfolio. Consult with your divorce financial planner to ensure that your new budgetary plan works during and after the divorce. Not only will they ensure that you are on the right track, but they can help you plan for matters such as inflation.(4)
Consider Tax Implications
When managing wealth in divorce, it pays to focus on not just the value of the assets being divided, but also the underlying tax implications, costs, and penalties that can arise due to a split. Making tax-savvy decisions will save you and your spouse a lot of headaches at the end of the day—plus, you’ll both have more money in your pockets.(5)
Be Properly Insured
Making sure you have updated insurance policies on your retained assets is incredibly important when managing wealth in divorce. As divorce wealth managers, we strongly recommend that you contact your insurance broker to update your automobile, homeowners, and umbrella liability coverage.
Pay close attention to the list of assets you delineated on your homeowner’s policy. Are there any jewelry pieces, firearms, collectibles, or artwork listed that are technically your spouse’s? Make sure to remove them so you aren’t stuck paying insurance premiums for assets you do not own.
It’s a good idea to consider investing in an umbrella liability policy on yourself. This kind of policy is specifically designed to help protect you from large and potentially devastating liability claims or judgment, such as bodily injury, personal injury, property damage, and landlord liability. (6)
Develop a New Estate Plan
An important step while planning for divorce is ensuring you and your loved ones are protected should the unexpected happen. Make sure that any wills, trusts, and other financial instruments are updated to align with your post-divorce goals. This includes updating your beneficiaries so your wealth is transferred to whomever you’d like should you pass away. Additionally, it’s important to work with your divorce financial planner to ensure advance directives, power of attorney, guardianship of children, and other related legal documents properly align with your post-divorce objectives as well.(7)
Plan for The Future
In most cases, a divorce will change your financial situation significantly.
Having a trusted wealth manager on your side will help you navigate a change in income, update your investing strategy, and develop a budget to live the lifestyle you want to live for years to come. At Morgan Rosel, our expert, experienced financial planners will work with you every step of the way to develop a personalized, tactical, and numbers-backed plan designed to secure your financial position.
Divorce is already hard enough as it is—but you don’t have to go through it alone. Give us a call at 303.647.3801 or send us a message so you can rest assured that your finances will be tended to with your best interests in mind before, during, and after your divorce.
1. Kagan, Julia. Investopedia. 2021. What Is a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA)? Available at: https://www.investopedia.com/terms/c/cdfa.asp.
2. Jeff Landers, “Understanding How Assets Get Divided in Divorce,” Forbes (Forbes Magazine, June 29, 2021), https://www.forbes.com/sites/jefflanders/2011/04/12/understanding-how-assets-get-divided-in-divorce/?sh=10f255582b66.
3. The Balance. 2022. How Retirement Plan Assets Are Divided in a Divorce. Available at: https://www.thebalance.com/how-retirement-plan-assets-are-divided-in-a-divorce-1289260.
4. Porter Wealth Management. 2022. 6 Steps to Protecting Your Wealth During Divorce – Porter Wealth Management. [online] Available at: <https://www.porterwm.com/2020/09/16/6-steps-to-protecting-your-wealth-during-divorce/> [Accessed 4 February 2022].
5. Finra.org. 2022. 6 Tips for Managing Your Investments Through Divorce | FINRA.org. [online] Available at: <https://www.finra.org/investors/insights/6-tips-managing-your-investments-through-divorce> [Accessed 4 February 2022].
6. Allstate. 2022. Umbrella Insurance: What It Is & What It Covers. [online] Available at: <https://www.allstate.com/tr/personal-umbrella-policy/whats-umbrella-insurance.aspx> [Accessed 4 February 2022].
7. Survive Divorce. 2022. A Guide to Divorce Financial Planning ([year]). [online] Available at: <https://www.survivedivorce.com/financial-planning> [Accessed 4 February 2022].
This commentary reflects the personal opinions, viewpoints and analyses of the MorganRosel Wealth Management, LLC (“MRWM”) employees and guests providing such comments, and should not be regarded as a description of advisory services provided by MRWM or performance returns of any MRWM Investments client. The views reflected in the commentary are subject to change at any time without notice. Nothing on this website constitutes investment advice, performance data or any recommendation that any particular security, portfolio of securities, transaction or investment strategy is suitable for any specific person. Any mention of a particular security and related performance data is not a recommendation to buy or sell that security. MRWM manages its clients’ accounts using a variety of investment techniques and strategies, which are not necessarily discussed in the commentary. Investments in securities involve the risk of loss. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. MRWM may recommend the services of a third-party attorney, accountant, tax professional, insurance agent, or other specialist to clients. MRWM is not compensated for these referrals.