A Beginners Guide to Financial Planning During a Divorce
If you're in the midst of a divorce, be careful in choosing the people you consult for financial advice. While everyone has good intentions when giving financial advice, assembling a team of experienced professionals can help you make a smoother transition, financially and emotionally. In this blog, we'll discuss the professionals you should consider on your team and what documents you'll need to start gathering as you prepare for the next phase of your life.
Build a Strong Support Team
It's imperative to assemble a team of professional advisors who understand what you want. Although most people know that having an experienced divorce attorney is important, there are a few other professionals you may want to add to your team. The list includes a financial planner, a real estate agent and a therapist to help you sort through your next steps. You can conduct an internet search to identify these professionals in your community; however, the better way to find a trusted advisor is to ask friends or family members for their recommendations and experiences. Their bad experiences will help guide you with who NOT to call.
Once you have identified possible advisors, it's a good idea to meet with each person and interview them to assess their expertise and personality. Go to each meeting with a list of prepared questions, such as how long they've been practicing, how they bill and what their experience is for your situation. You'll need to trust your advisors, not just tolerate them. If you pick up a tone that is threatening, misogynistic or demeaning to you in the meeting, it would be wise to trust your instincts and not hire that person. A person with a great personality without expertise is not helpful and can have negative consequences; likewise, an expert that you do not trust or respect can also be disadvantageous and add unnecessary stress.
Remember: you'll probably be spending a good amount of time with these advisors, so make sure each of them returns phone calls promptly and has a good support staff to assist you.
Every individual's financial history is different. A 29-year-old's financial snapshot will look much different than a 53-year-old business owner with multiple rental properties. Regardless of your situation, it's important to gather the following documents as you start meeting with your support team:
- current income documents (pay stubs)
- two years of tax returns
- all debt statements
- all savings and investment statements
- properties owned
- social security statements
- vehicles owned
- insurance policies (auto, home, disability, life and health)
- your will & estate plan
You are establishing a baseline of your current financial health and what it will look like moving forward without your spouse.
This can feel like a daunting experience, but with the help of your carefully selected support team, you'll feel comfortable with making educated choices about your financial future. It's very important to be honest and forthcoming with the document collection process. A good support team will not judge or shame you.
In my next blog, I'll cover a few financial mistakes to avoid when going through the divorce process.
About the Author
Nick joined Healy Financial in 2015 with over ten years of experience in financial services. After graduating from Bethel College with a BA in Education, Nick's passion for helping others led him to teach in a middle school in the inner city of Los Angeles.
He brings his compassion and communication skills to his financial services practice, helping others understand the complex ideas of personal finance. A teacher at heart, Nick dedicates his professional time and talent to helping his clients