What to do When Going Your Separate Ways Part 2

Women helping women -

What to do When Going your Separate Ways Part 2

 

By Karen A. Miller, CFP®, CPFA

 

In the first installment of “What to do when going your separate ways,” we discussed the things that you should do right away. In this installment, we’ll discuss some of the longer-term changes you may need to make as well as a few common mistakes to try to avoid.

 

Getting it right the first time

Divorce can be complicated, and it can take time to sort things out—especially if you have children. Here are some things that are worth spending the time on:

 

  • If you have kids, determining who is responsible for what
    • For example, it is critical to understand—and have a written agreement about—who will be paying for what and for how long (child support and college, for example). Sadly, you cannot simply trust that your ex, no matter how earnest they are, will take care of your children as they intend to now, as a new spouse or children can change your ex’s priorities.

 

  • Change the beneficiaries on your retirement and other accounts—your spouse is likely the default beneficiary on your retirement account, so it is important to change this to your children, other loved one, or a guardian you name.

 

  • Revise your estate plan and your will to represent your new status, assets and wishes. And if you have custody of your minor children, you may also want to consider:
    • Designating a guardian in case something were to happen to you.
    • Putting your assets in a living trust. This enables you to retain control over them, while protecting those you love. After your death, funds will be distributed according to directions in the trust's document, which is important because even a guardian you designate may not make decisions as you would like. Depending upon the trust's terms, assets can also be protected from your former spouse, creditors and even spendthrift children.
    • Buying a new life insurance policy on your ex. Remember, if they remarry, it’s likely that the new spouse will become the beneficiary of an existing policy, making it wise for you to own a policy outright.

 

 

Avoiding common mistakes

There is no way to be perfect at anything. And this is especially true when it comes to divorce. That being said, there are some common mistakes you should try to avoid.

  • Try not to overestimate your retirement assets—many people forget that they will need to pay taxes on these assets when they access them
  • Avoid overemphasizing longevity and amount of alimony you may be receiving—remember that if your ex passes away or you remarry, this income would need to be replaced
  • Remember that you may be entitled to spousal Social Security benefits—if you were married for at least 10 years and you do not remarry, you are eligible to collect spousal benefits if they are larger than your own benefit

 

Divorce and estate planning attorneys can provide more comprehensive legal information and Gasber Financial can help you with your financial, retirement and other plans.

What to do When Going Your Separate Ways

Women Helping Women -

What to do When Going Your Separate Ways Part 1

 

By Karen A. Miller, CFP®, CPFA

 

Disentangling finances is often more complicated than it was to combine them in the first place. But it’s an important step toward asserting your financial independence. And, while it can be a long, overwhelming process, it doesn’t have to be—especially if you take it one step at a time.

 

In this first part of our series “What to do when going your separate ways,” we’re talking about the things that you can—and should—do right away.

 

  1. Change the name(s) on your utilities—this may not sound like a big deal, but often if you are not named on the utilities, the company will not let you make changes to the account. And when things are not amicable, it could be hard to get your ex to call the utility company to make the changes you desire.

 

  1. Re-establish your individual bank and credit card accounts—if you have joint accounts, you should likely close them and open your own. And if your ex has a credit card under your name, you’ll want to close those out as well. Far too often, one partner raids the bank account or drives up your debt simply out of spite.

 

  1. Redirect paychecks and other direct deposit items (like tax refunds) to ensure they do not accidentally end up in your old joint account—again, this may seem simple, but it’s easy to forget that your paycheck gets deposited to your joint account (if that’s the case). Make sure your payroll office has the new information for your new direct deposit.

 

  1. Check your credit rating to ensure it remains separate and is not negatively impacted by your ex—there are a number of free services like creditkarma.com, nerdwallet.com, freecreditreport.com and others that enable you to get your credit score without impacting your credit rating.

 

  1. Have all your home, auto and life insurance policies brought up to date—if you can (life insurance and other policies are sometimes dependent upon your divorce agreement), bring your policies up to date to ensure they include the appropriate parties, properties and beneficiaries (if appropriate).

 

Get a head start

Now is also a good time to at least begin gathering the information you need to gain a comprehensive picture of your true combined worth. In addition to the most recent banking, investment and retirement account statements for both of you, it may make sense to get up to date appraisals on homes, art and jewelry. It’s worth noting that an estimated 1 in 5 Americans (that’s about 29 million) have a bank account or credit card hidden from their partner.1

A divorce attorney can provide more comprehensive legal information, a forensic accountant may be able to help you find assets you were unaware of, and Gasber Financial can help you aggregate the financial information you need to move forward.

 

In our next installment, we’ll discuss some of the longer-term changes you should make and things you should consider as you continue to assert your independence.

 

 

1 https://www.cbsnews.com/news/millions-of-americans-keep-financial-secrets-from-spouses/

Women Helping Women: Navigating the Empty Nest

Women Helping Women: Navigating the Empty Nest

By: Karen A. Miller, CFP®, CPFA

Written April 16, 2019

 

If you are one of those individuals who is less than excited about becoming an empty nester, you are not alone. There are many, many women—and men—who feel the same way. But, if you plan for it, this can actually be one of the most amazing times in your life. In fact, 95% of those aged 40-70 are actually excited to have time without the kids.* And many women say it’s the best time of their lives.

 

Get back to work

If you took time out of your career to be home with your children, now may be the right time to get back into the workforce. Some companies, like IBM, have created programs (the “returnship”) that help women return to the workforce. And there are other great resources, like iRelaunch, that provide information, education and re-entry programs you can leverage (they also happen to work directly with more than 40 blue chip companies, national network of alumni career services directors and more).

 

Reconnect

This can be a great time to nurture those relationships that may have been pushed aside a bit, like with your significant other, your friends or even yourself. Consider:

  • Volunteering for an organization or cause you support
  • Trying a new workout, training for a marathon or whatever else gets you moving
  • Joining a social group or starting a new one
  • Going on dates, trips or any of the ideas above with your significant other
  • Establishing a monthly night out with your friends

 

Continuing your education

If you’re like a lot of women, you may consider going back to school to get that degree or extra degree you’ve wanted. In fact, 8.1 million adults 25 and older attend college.** Of course, this can be a considerable expense, so you will likely need a strategy to help pay for it. If you work outside the home, your employer may offer some form of tuition reimbursement. And, there are many sources you can look to for scholarships or student loans, including Scholarships.com, Return2college.com, studentloanhero.com and many others. And there are a number of ways to use your personal or financial assets to help you pay for these expenses as well.

 

 

You are not alone. Gasber Financial can help you determine the right financial plan to help you achieve everything you desire at this exciting time of life.

 

 

 

*Huffingtonpost.com

**studentloanhero.com/featured/scholarships-for-adults/

 

Women Helping Women: Smart Resources for Women with Special Needs Children

Women helping women: Smart Resources for Women with Special Needs Children  

Written by Karen A. Miller, CFP®, CPFA on 09 April 2019

 

In our last blog, we began a discussion of some resources and options for women who are providing care to their loved ones. Today, we’ll focus in on resources and tools for women with special needs children, because we know that these moms worry like no others.

 

Government resources

There are many resources in place to help provide medical and other benefits for children with special healthcare needs:

  1. Social Security may provide disability benefits for children under 18 with mental or physical conditions that severely limit their abilities (visit socialsecurity.gov)
  2. In many states, children receiving Social Security benefits are automatically eligible to receive Medicaid benefits as well (check with your state’s Medicaid office—in California, this is MediCal)
  3. The Early Periodic Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment (EPSDT) program requires states not only to give periodic well child screenings for every child on Medicaid, but also to pay for any medically necessary treatments whether or not they are covered by the state’s Medicaid plan
  4. If you don’t qualify for Medicaid, your child may still qualify for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP—coverage varies so contact your state’s Medicaid office for more information)

 

Special needs trusts

It is possible to use a special needs trust (also known as a supplemental needs trust) to help provide for your child’s future without endangering their government benefits.

 

The basics

Potential advantages

Considerations

Assets belonging to your special needs child—funds, financial assets, property and more, whether from an inheritance, lawsuit settlement, or from loved ones—are placed into trust.

 

 

The beneficiary named in the trust can receive a residence or funds to use as they need, while retaining their eligibility for government assistance.

 

Can also reduce the size of the trust grantor’s taxable estate.

Select a trustee with the experience of providing the special administration these trusts require, in order to help manage and preserve these critically important assets for these worthy beneficiaries.

 

Depending on the type of special needs trust, remaining funds after the beneficiary’s death may either pass to family or may be used to reimburse the government for the costs of care.

 

 

Other tools

Another option to help protect your child is a guardianship. Designed to provide financial protection for those who may be too young, too disabled or too vulnerable to financial exploitation or mismanagement to manage their own finances, a guardianship can help protect your child when you are no longer able to do so. Of course, with this type of tool, like with trustees, it is often best to select a professional to be the guardian.

 

 

Gasber Financial doesn’t give legal advice, but we can work with your attorney to help you to design and implement trusts and guardianships that can help you to protect and provide for your children.

Women Helping Women: How to Take Care of Family Business When You are the Caregiver

Women helping women: How to take care of family business when you are the caregiver

 

Chances are good that, at some point in your life, you may end up being a caregiver for someone you love. In fact, nearly 1 in 5 of all adults provide care to an adult loved one or to children.* And, unsurprisingly, 60% of those who do are women.* But there are things you should consider before you take on this rewarding, but potentially stressful role.

 

Help caring for an aging loved one

You don’t have to go it alone

Whether you are considering paying for the care or providing it yourself, it’s important to note that you may not need to do it all alone. In fact, there are many resources for information and even financial help. A few include:

 

  1. The Family Caregiver Alliance at www.caregiver.org—which has many resources for caregivers, including support groups, lists of services in your area, and much more
  2. Your loved one’s life insurance policy (or yours)—which may have a cash balance or a chronic illness rider that can be accessed to help pay for care
  3. Other programs that may pay for an outside caregiver to help alleviate some of the responsibilities (look at BenefitsCheckUp.org and eldercare.gov to name a few)

 

 

Providing the care yourself

More than half of women caregivers still need to work and may even be sandwiched between providing care for older loved ones and children at the same time. It’s important to still be able to take care of yourself financially and emotionally. So, before making the decision to provide care yourself, here are some things you should think about:

  • Can you afford to stay home and for how long?
    • The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) enables you to take 12 weeks unpaid (for your own medical needs or those of others) and return to your same position and salary
    • If you desire to be home longer than 12 weeks, it may not only be your salary you need to replace, but also health insurance and other benefits
    • You should still be saving for retirement—and if you have children—saving for college as well
  • Can you get paid to provide the care?
    • Family may be willing to help you provide the care or meet the costs, so ask them early on  
    • Certain State Medicaid and aging services programs may actually pay you to care for your relative through “participant directed” or “consumer directed” programs (check your state’s aging services and Medicaid sites)
  • Can you earn income on the side?
    • Today there is a thriving “Gig economy” where women can create great income streams on a freelance basis being tutors, tour guides, babysitters, shoppers and more. These jobs enable you to earn an income, while providing flexible schedules. Some great sites for finding gigs include fiverr.com, behance.net, Guru.com, freelancer.com.

 

Regardless of the type of care you hope to provide, Gasber Financial can help you determine not only what the long-term costs involved may be, but also the best ways to afford it.

 

In our next installment, we’ll discuss considerations for providing care for special needs loved ones.

 

 

*http://www.nationalpartnership.org/our-work/resources/workplace/female-face-family-caregiving.pdf