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Planning for Financials around Divorce

Financial Planning After a Divorce: What Women Should Know

The truth is, after a divorce, women tend to be hit harder financially than men. And, given that women experienced the highest rates of job losses in 2020, divorce in the current environment is even more likely to disrupt their financial stability. For women who find themselves experiencing the increasingly common  “gray” or late-life divorce, the financial consequences may be even more acute. The decision to end a  marriage after age 50 could mean unraveling assets and finances that have been shared for decades. 

If you’re facing financial challenges or decisions after divorce, how can you better understand and take control of your financial future? To start, consider seeking guidance on some of the planning issues discussed below. 

Splitting Marital Assets 

This topic can become highly complicated. Assets acquired during the marriage are split according to your state’s law. Generally speaking, most states follow equitable distribution rules that will consider all marital assets, and a court will determine their distribution between you and your former spouse. There are nine states that have community property laws, which means each spouse owns 50 percent of the assets acquired during their marriage (with certain exceptions). When it comes to debts, in community property states the same approach holds. Debts acquired during the marriage are generally attributable to both spouses. In noncommunity property states, however, debts usually stay with the spouse who incurred the debt, unless the other spouse cosigned or otherwise guaranteed it. 

Retirement savings

The contributions you or your former spouse make to employer-sponsored retirement plans and IRAs during the marriage are generally considered marital property, with some exceptions. Contributions made outside of the marriage, for example, can be considered separate property. Pay particular attention to any qualified plans you may have, such as pensions or 401(k)s, as these should be divided according to a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO). 

A QDRO allows for a tax and penalty-free transfer to a nonowner ex-spouse. Neither the original owner nor the divorcing nonowner should be taxed or penalized if the nonowner rolls the assets directly into a  qualified plan or an IRA. Keep in mind, if the nonowner spouse receiving the distribution uses the funds in any other fashion, a tax will be imposed on that distribution—but only to that spouse. 

We can discuss the QDRO with you in greater detail, as options can vary from plan to plan. Pensions, for example, will generally not pay a lump sum but will make payments to the ex-spouse the same way they would be made to the employee-owner. The sooner a QDRO is presented to a plan administrator, the clearer the understanding you’ll have about your options. 

Creditor protection is another consideration. Keep in mind that 401(k) plans are covered by the Employee  Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), so they have creditor protection. If the 401(k) is rolled into an  IRA, it will continue to be protected from bankruptcy creditors, but it will only receive general creditor protection as provided by state law. 

Dividing an IRA is different, though. ERISA does not cover IRAs, and the division of an IRA does not require a QDRO. For federal tax purposes, if the division follows a court-issued divorce decree and is made as a trustee-to-trustee transfer as opposed to an outright distribution, an IRA owner can avoid tax and penalties. Once the asset is transferred, each spouse becomes solely responsible for tax and penalties of any future distributions. 

Family Home

If you or your ex-spouse want to hold on to the home, the marital estate can be equalized from other assets, if necessary. Current circumstances related to the pandemic may complicate the equalization, though. Because inventories and interest rates remain low, demand exceeds the supply of homes for sale. In this seller’s market, we’re seeing homes sold immediately after the Coming Soon sign is posted. Plus, the rise in home values across the U.S. increases the likelihood that the equalization may involve the exchange of additional liquid assets to keep the house. 

If you’re interested in keeping the family home, we can help you factor ongoing mortgage payments,  property taxes, and maintenance expenses into your current cash flow and long-term financial plan to see whether it’s feasible. If not, there are other alternatives we can look at, including refinancing or downsizing. 

Life insurance.

The accumulated cash value of a life insurance policy is subject to division—much like any other marital asset. If it’s necessary to divide the cash value, transferring a policy’s ownership can be included as part of your divorce decree. If you are transferring a policy, be sure to update beneficiary designations before doing so. 

Considering Income and Cash Flow 

If you or your spouse was the breadwinner, income may need to be equalized in the division of assets.  State family laws determine any alimony amounts. Whether you’re paying or receiving alimony payments,  we can help factor the effect into your monthly or annual cash flow plan. 

Alimony

Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, alimony payments are no longer deductible by the payer, and, consequently, the payee can’t include the money as taxable income. This change applies to divorce settlements made after December 31, 2018. It can also apply to existing agreements that are modified after that date, but only if the modification explicitly states that the new rule applies. 

Social security

You may be able to collect social security income on your ex-spouse’s working record  (even if your ex-spouse remarries) as long as you have not remarried, your marriage lasted more than 10  years, and you have been divorced for more than two years. To qualify, you and your former spouse must be 62 or older. If you were born before December 31, 1953, you can file a restricted application allowing you to receive up to 50 percent of your ex-spouse’s full retirement age benefit amount, and your own benefit can grow with delayed retirement credits. Your ex-spouse will not be aware of or involved in your claim. 

If you’re caring for a child younger than 16 and you’re not remarried, children’s social security benefits may be available to you, regardless of your age.  

Child support

Based on their sensitive nature, child support issues, including financial support and physical care, are usually resolved in court. The divorce decree should specify the amounts, if any, of child support paid from one spouse to the other, as well as who will be entitled to claim the children as dependents for tax purposes. Although the pandemic’s impact on women has been largely disproportionate, one positive outgrowth is a growing consensus that childcare is, in fact, infrastructure.  This focus may ease the childcare burden if you are the custodial parent. 

Estate Planning 

Following your divorce, it’s important to update your estate plan to accommodate any adjustments.  Although most state laws nullify a beneficiary or fiduciary designation of an ex-spouse, you may need to amend or get new trusts, wills, and powers of attorney, as well as change beneficiary designations. If you named your former spouse as your trusted person or beneficiary in documents or on accounts, these designations should be changed as soon as possible. And, if you retain custody—even partial custody— of a minor, your estate planning documents should address the issue of guardianship for your child and the child’s estate.  

Taking the Long-Term View 

If you feel financially unprepared for the breakup of your marriage, you’re not alone. Only about one-third of divorcées have a comprehensive plan in place (see chart below), according to a 2017 Fidelity  Investments survey. That’s one reason it’s critical to get the guidance you need to help you navigate the financial challenges of a divorce. 

Need Additional Information? 

As a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA®) I am able to guide women through all of the financial implications of a divorce. Join me on Wednesday, August 31st at 12pm for a Live Webinar: Financial Independence: A Divorced Woman’s Guide. REGISTER TODAY!

This material has been provided for general informational purposes only and does not constitute either tax or legal advice. Although we go to great lengths to make sure our information is accurate and useful,  we recommend you consult a tax preparer, professional tax advisor, or lawyer. 

Pre Marital Planning Financial

3 Financial Items to Consider Before Marriage

Divorce is hard enough without the many financial issues it brings. In fact, disagreements about money are one of the leading causes of divorce. This is why it is important to save yourself from future distress by considering certain pre-marriage steps. Having smart family discussions about money and forming legal agreements can not only prevent marital problems but save you from stressful legal arguments in the unfortunate event of a divorce. 

1. Prenuptial Agreement

Regardless of how you divide financial responsibilities within a marriage, divorce can raise difficult questions about each spouse’s legal rights and responsibilities. A prenuptial agreement can be a wise choice; by settling all of those issues before they arise. A prenup can limit your debt liability by ensuring that creditors cannot go after you to collect on your spouse’s debts. It can also protect the inheritance rights of your children from a previous relationship, as well as the ownership rights to your business. 

It is important to enter a marriage with a solid sense of assets and liabilities- a prenup is not just for the event of divorce, but for full disclosure of financials within a partnership. 

Prenups may also set provisions for financial responsibility during the marriage. They can even contain a sunset provision, meaning that conditions in the prenup will expire after a certain length of time.

 

2. Property

If you and your spouse eventually part ways, you may not agree on who owns certain property acquired during the marriage. Depending on the state you live in, property acquired during a marriage may be divided up 50-50 during a divorce, or be divided as a judge deems fair, which may not be strictly equal. Establishing which property will be marital or separate should be considered before entering into a marriage, and separate property acquired as a gift or inheritance during a marriage should be carefully documented as such: 

 

Determining whether property is separate or marital can become a very fact-specific inquiry. Especially in community property states, a judge may presume that all the property in a couple’s possession during their marriage is marital property unless they present evidence to suggest that an asset is separate property.” 

 

3. Children and Estate Planning

You may have already made some estate planning considerations, but they should be reevaluated before marriage. Whether this is your first marriage or your third, it is important to consider how it may legally impact your spouse, as well as your obligations and children from previous relationships. Estate planning will provide you the flexibility to name someone else to oversee the money you leave to your children. If you have remarried, an estate plan can provide support for your surviving spouse, as well as protect your children’s potential inheritance should your surviving spouse remarry.

Before getting married, your will should reflect your desires as they impact your children and those of your new spouse. Don’t make the mistake of assuming a change in your circumstances will make a prior beneficiary designation null and void. Always make beneficiary changes on the correct paperwork specific to the financial institution.

 

In Conclusion

Avoiding financial stress in a marital partnership is vital to protecting your assets and those of your spouse. Taking these measures before entering into a marriage not only simplifies the process of a divorce, but ensures that you and your spouse are on the same page in terms of the division of assets within a marriage. Consulting with a professional before you tie the knot will answer any hypothetical questions you both may have about a possible divorce. Though it may sound like a disheartening way to begin a marriage, it is a practical and mutually beneficial choice for you and your spouse!

As a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA®) Emily Promise is able to guide women through all of the financial implications of a divorce. Join her on Wednesday, August 31st at 12pm for a Live Webinar: Financial Independence: A Divorced Woman’s Guide. Register Today!

 

Engage with the entire Blakely Financial team at WWW.BLAKELYFINANCIAL.COM to see what other financial tips we can provide towards your financial well-being.

Blakely Financial, Inc. is an independent financial planning and investment management firm that provides clarity, insight, and guidance to help our clients attain their financial goals.

Securities and advisory services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network, Member FINRA/SIPC, a Registered Investment Adviser.

Donna Teaching Crock-Pot Class at YWCA

Donna Blakely recently volunteered with the Junior League of High Point and helped teach a Crock-Pot cooking class at the YWCA to young moms. It was an educational workshop that included healthy eating focused on the nutritional needs of women and children. The JLHP provided each participant with a crock-pot, recipe book, and ingredients to help these moms recreate the meal at home that was demonstrated to them during the class. Anytime there is food and cooking involved, Donna loves to help out!

Donna Blakely Crock-Pot JLHP Junior League of High Point YWCA
Donna Blakely teaching Crock-Pot class with the JLHP Junior League of High Point YWCA
The Truth About Buy Now Pay Later BNPL Blakely Financial

When Buying Is Easy, Paying Later Can Be a Problem

Presented by Emily Promise

If you shop online, you might have noticed a growing number of buy now, pay later (BNPL) services that offer the option to spread out the payments on your purchases. For example, buyers who make one partial payment upfront and agree to several additional interest-free installments can receive their orders immediately. This is a crucial difference from the layaway plans of the past in which shoppers had to wait until they paid the balance in full to take their goods home. Many stores discontinued layaway plans in the 1980s when credit cards became widespread.

BNPL plans are more popular with younger consumers trying to stretch their paychecks, partly because they are more comfortable shopping online (and particularly on smartphones). At first glance, it may seem like a worthwhile convenience, but there are good reasons to think twice before committing to installment purchases.

Credit Is Credit

BNPL plans are essentially point-of-sale loans; applying for financing is quick and easy, which seems like a plus when time is tight.

However, speedy access to credit also provides instant gratification and allows for more impulse buying. As a result, it might tempt you to overspend on things you don’t need and probably wouldn’t buy if you had to save up and/or pay 100% of the cost upfront. And if you make a lot of smaller purchases across multiple services, it may be harder to keep track of how much you are spending.

Too Good To Be True?

One criticism of BNPL services is that they make it easier for consumers to fall into debt. As with credit cards, you would face financial consequences such as late fees and/or high-interest rates if you encounter a financial setback and can’t pay the installments on schedule.

Another point to consider is that credit-card companies report on-time payments to the credit bureaus, so using credit cards responsibly can help you build a positive credit history. In contrast, some BNPL lenders may not bother to report on-time payments — though they will indeed report missed payments and collections. So before you use any BNPL service, read the fine print carefully to make sure you understand the terms and conditions and the company’s credit reporting policies.

 

This material has been provided for general informational purposes only and does not constitute either tax or legal advice. Although we go to great lengths to ensure our information is accurate and useful, we recommend you consult a tax preparer, professional tax advisor, or lawyer.

Engage with the entire Blakely Financial team at WWW.BLAKELYFINANCIAL.COM to see what other financial tips we can provide towards your financial well-being.

Blakely Financial, Inc. is an independent financial planning and investment management firm that provides clarity, insight, and guidance to help our clients attain their financial goals.

Securities and advisory services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network, Member FINRA/SIPC, a Registered Investment Adviser.

Holiday Conversation Topics

Holiday Conversation Topics

The holidays are a time for gathering with family and friends. As we return to in-person gatherings this holiday season, there will be countless opportunities for meaningful conversations with your family.  There are so many important financial planning topics that can and should be discussed.  I’m here to share some topics of conversation to have across all generations of the family.

The Patriarchs & Matriarchs (“Grandparents”) of the family to their grown adult children:

Who will help with medical and end-of-life decisions? Do they know where your financial accounts are? Discuss your estate planning wishes with your adult children; share where to locate vital documents (password books, estate documents).

Adults to their Children:

For Young Children – Talk about the importance of saving and giving back to the community in which you live (holidays are about more than just gifts – teach them this lesson while they are young!)

Teenaged Children – What are their goals for the future? Are they considering going to college? Are they working on making varsity on a sports team next season? Listen to them, hear them out, and then share with them knowledge and lessons you have learned in the past.

Young Adult Children – At this period in their life, they have a lot going on – new jobs, maybe a home purchase, starting families of their own – all major life decisions! Discuss the importance of looking into the future and planning for such goals.

Now, once you work through the serious stuff – and the holiday punch has kicked in – here are some fun, thought-provoking conversations to have as a group:

•             Start a family book club

•             Share family recipes

•             Plan a family reunion

Make the most of the holidays and your time together. Life gets busy, and we often don’t have quality time with family, so take advantage of your time with family and friends – don’t wish it away!

Women Face Challenges in a Post-Pandemic World Emily Promise Blakely Financial

Women Face Challenges in a Post-Pandemic World

By Emily Promise,  CFP®, CDFA®, AIF®, APMA®, CRPC®

The COVID-19 economic crisis tested the mettle of all Americans, mainly working mothers. Research shows that the pandemic’s impacts on women have been far-reaching and potentially long-lasting. Now that the U.S. economy is picking up steam, it may be more important than ever for women to re-examine their retirement planning strategies.

Effects of the COVID-19 Economy

The COVID-19 recession disproportionately impacted working women because sectors that typically employ them — including retail, hospitality, and health care — were hit harder than others. As noted in a paper released by the National Bureau of Economic Research, “Employment fell more for women compared to men at every stage during the pandemic, with the biggest gender differences estimated for married women with children.” Many women were forced to cut work hours or leave jobs entirely to care for family members and supervise remote schooling activities when daycares and schools shut down.1

In a Pew Research study, 64% of women said they or someone in their household lost a job or took a pay cut during the pandemic, and nearly a quarter took unpaid time off for personal, family, or medical reasons. Half of women ranked their financial situation as “only fair” or “poor.”2

More Than Their Share of Job Losses
Before the pandemic, women made up 52% of the population. Yet, they represented a more significant proportion of the employment decline during the spring, summer, and fall seasons of 2020.
Women’s share of the 2020 employment decline: spring 66%; summer 63%; fall 59%.
Source: National Bureau of Economic Research, 2021

Retirement at Risk?

When it comes to retirement savings, unmarried women have the most ground to cover, according to an Employee Benefit Research Institute survey. Nearly six in 10 have less than $50,000 set aside for retirement; 31% have saved less than $1,000.3

Couple these statistics with the retirement planning challenges women faced even before the pandemic — longer life spans and lower earnings and Social Security benefits, on average — and it’s apparent that women need a carefully considered retirement strategy that will help them pursue their goals.

Making Up Lost Ground

If you or a loved one need to make up lost ground, consider the following tips.

1. Save as much as possible in tax-advantaged investment vehicles, such as employer-based retirement plans and IRAs. In 2021, you can contribute up to $19,500 to 401(k) and similar plans and $6,000 to IRAs. Those figures jump to $26,000 and $7,000, respectively, if you are 50 or older. If your employer offers a match, be sure to contribute at least enough to take full advantage of it. If you have no income but you’re married and file a joint income tax return, you can still contribute to a spousal IRA in your name, provided your spouse earns at least as much as you contribute.

2. Familiarize yourself with basic investing principles: dollar-cost averaging, diversification, and asset allocation. Dollar-cost averaging involves continuous investments in securities, regardless of fluctuating prices, and can be an effective way to accumulate shares to help meet long-term goals. However, you should consider your financial ability to continue making purchases during periods of low and high price levels. (If you contribute to an employer-based plan, you’re already using dollar-cost averaging.) Diversification and asset allocation are methods to help manage investment risk while building a portfolio appropriate for your needs. Note that all investment involves risk, and none of these strategies guarantees a profit or protects against investment loss.

3. Seek guidance from your financial professional, who can provide an objective opinion during challenging times and may be able to help you find ways to reduce costs and save more. Although there is no assurance that working with a financial professional will improve investment results, a professional can evaluate your objectives and available resources and help you consider appropriate long-term financial strategies.

Sources: 1) National Bureau of Economic Research, 2021; 2) Pew Research Center, 2021; 3) Employee Benefit Research Institute, 2021

This material has been provided for general informational purposes only and does not constitute either tax or legal advice. Although we go to great lengths to make sure our information is accurate and useful, we recommend you consult a tax preparer, professional tax advisor, or lawyer.

Engage with the entire Blakely Financial team at WWW.BLAKELYFINANCIAL.COM to see what other specialized advice we can provide towards your financial well-being.

EMILY PROMISE is a financial advisor with BLAKELY FINANCIAL, INC. located at 1022 Hutton Ln., Suite 109, High Point, NC 27262 and can be reached at (336) 885-2530.

Blakely Financial, Inc. is an independent financial planning and investment management firm that provides clarity, insight, and guidance to help our clients attain their financial goals.

Securities and advisory services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network, Member FINRA/SIPC, a Registered Investment Adviser.

Prepared by Commonwealth Financial Network®

Traits of a Millionaire Woman

Traits of Millionaire Women

Presented by  Emily Promise

How does a millionaire woman look? Well, millionaires – women and men – come in all shapes and sizes. 

First, we will look at the profile of a millionaire woman. Here are some basic facts:

  • 2/3rds of millionaire women come from a dual-income household
  • 2/3rds have children
  • Only 5% of millionaire women are business owners

Millionaire women and women, in general, all share the following traits: 

  1. Express increased concern, and exhibit more stress, regarding preparing for their financial future versus men
  2. Are more concerned about the future versus the present
  3. Love having a financial plan – women are natural planners

All millionaire women have a plan. Women, in general, love the idea of a financial plan – it serves as a road map to reach their goals, whatever those may be.

Women take on myriad roles in life and, to coordinate everything, planning is a vital component! (Think about trekking the kids around to all their extra activities without a schedule or forethought!)

When it comes to finances, it takes diligent savings to amaze the wealth that women have. As they say, money does not grow on trees.

One final trait that all millionaire women share is that they want their concerns addressed. Whether it’s the financial concern of having enough money, or the personal, such as how will I care for my aging parents, women want someone to go to as a trusted advisor to provide clarity, insight, and guidance to elevate their concerns.

 

Engage with the entire Blakely Financial team at WWW.BLAKELYFINANCIAL.COM to see what other specialized advice we can provide towards your financial well-being.

EMILY PROMISE is a financial advisor with BLAKELY FINANCIAL, INC. located at 1022 Hutton Ln., Suite 109, High Point, NC 27262 and can be reached at (336) 885-2530.

Blakely Financial, Inc. is an independent financial planning and investment management firm that provides clarity, insight, and guidance to help our clients attain their financial goals.

Securities and advisory services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network, Member FINRA/SIPC, a Registered Investment Adviser.

Prepared by Commonwealth Financial Network®