Deconstructing Divorce

Taking the Mystery Out of Divorce


Sally Boyle is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) and Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA) who has provided financial planning and business advice for over 30 years. After working through her own difficult and unexpected divorce, she committed her life’s work to helping others in similar situations. Sally is the mother of four sons and the grandmother to two twin granddaughters. She enjoys spending the day hiking or skiing in the White Mountains, sailing in one of New England’s beautiful lakes, or enjoying a family day in her town of Hanover, New Hampshire.

The 30 Somethings Guide to Financial Independence

                                 

When I think back on my early 30’s I realize I didn’t actively give a thought to my savings or finances. I was single so my career garnered all my attention. I worked hard, did well, and kept my housing costs low by buying a triplex in the low-cost city of Pittsburgh. In other words, I became the “accidental saver”.

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Don't Leave Your Money on the Table

Let’s face it. The college application process is stressful. Most highs school seniors are applying to multiple colleges, writing as many essays, collecting recommendation letters and concerned continuously about admissions. Likewise, parents are stressed about paying for college with the cost approaching what might be more than they paid for their starter homes. Many parents would like to have some assistance with the costs but often make the mistake of pre-judging their ability to qualify for aid. As a result, they don’t bother to fill out the FAFSA to see if they qualify. Big mistake. Their assumptions are based upon misconceptions that are just plain wrong! Here are a few.

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Happily Never Married

Happily Never Married

Single Women and Financial Independence

I won’t bore you with what you already know and what has already been said. Women are at a disadvantage in preparing for their financial independence because they generally make less money than men, interrupt their careers to take care of children and parents and, in general, enjoy longer life spans. If they are widowed, they often face a sharp decline in income when their spouse dies. If divorced, they find themselves fighting to make up for the resources they didn’t accumulate for all the same reasons mentioned above. For GenXers, those born between 1961-1981, half of those found at risk of not having enough money for retirement were single women. About 57% of Millennials, whose average age is now 28.5, are single.

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Wise Investors Won't React Quickly

Wise Investors Won't React Quickly

After a long and brutal U.S. Presidential election campaign, Donald Trump has emerged victorious. Equally important, the Republican party retained control of the U.S. Senate while also retaining a comfortable majority in the House of Representatives.

For a large number of Americans and the international community who were anticipating a Clinton victory this was a significant blow. In the wake of their disappointment we saw international stocks, currencies and commodities fall while treasuries rose. Investor reaction was to take a risk off posture and liquidate stocks in a flight to purchasing treasuries.  Wise investors won't react so quickly. 

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Who is Helping You Raise Your Spinnaker?

Who is Helping You Raise Your Spinnaker?

This past weekend I was participating in an advanced sailing class where we were learning how to raise a spinnaker, those colorful pluming sails that completely surround the front of the sailboat. We were in Boston Harbor, where sailing can be challenging with the wind blocked or redirected by buildings and freighters. But today it was Mother Nature who wasn't cooperating. 

Now raising a spinnaker for the first time feels complicated. It has many more sheets and lines, requires care in exactly where they are placed and has its own private boom. Even releasing the spinnaker is a controlled, planned process. Our instructor was barking orders to the four of us in our respective tasks but our helmsman was missing his cues. As the wind shifted abruptly,  things began to quickly spin out of control. The sail burned through our instructors fingers and nearly completely off the boat while our boom swung in an accidental jibe, fortunately just as I ducked into the deck below. But our helmsman wasn't so lucky taking in on the head and requiring a few stitches. 

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Are You Under Cyber-Assault? How to Protect Yourself

Are You Under Cyber-Assault? How to Protect Yourself

Do you know who is on the other end of that email address? It might not be as apparent as you think. Can you be sure someone isn’t watching every move you make on your computer?  You can’t see them, but they can see every keystroke. We are all under the constant threat of a cyber-assault. Are you protected?

The number of people that access their financial accounts online has nearly doubled in the last couple of years. So, it isn’t surprising that the number of cyber-thieves and online “fraudsters” has also increased. They’re after your money and they are relentless in pursuing any and all technological means to get it. Because their point of entry is your computer, you are really the last line of defense in preventing an assault that could rob you of your identity and your money. The first step of prevention is to know how they can get to you.

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How to Keep Your Credit Card Information Safe

How to Keep Your Credit Card Information Safe

In the good old days thieves just went after the green. Nowadays they’re after your credit card information. Why? Because, it’s easier to steal your credit card information than your money. Each day, billions of credit card transactions with each use being a potential opportunity for a thief to abscond with an account number. But, contrary to popular belief, most credit card information thefts don’t occur through online transactions, rather through physical theft, such as retrieving receipts or bills from garbage cans or open cars. In any case, your credit card information is a top target of relentless identity thieves as evidenced by the millions of people who have theirs stolen each year. Just by taking a few extra measures in your daily activities, your credit card information can be kept safe and secure.

Shred it
These days, most credit card receipts don’t show the complete account number, but a quick glance to be sure is always prudent. If your receipt does show your complete account number it should be immediately placed in a secure location until such time that you can reconcile your bill later. At that point, both your receipts and your bills should be shredded. More people are moving towards paperless billing, so there is no need to receive a physical bill in the mail.  Any document that includes your credit card account number or social security number should be shredded along with any application for credit.

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Our Biggest Financial Challenges are often Self-Inflicted

Our Biggest Financial Challenges are often Self-Inflicted

In many respects, people can be their own worst enemies in their quest for financial security. When you consider that our lives are nothing more than a culmination of the decisions we make each day, if we tend to make more bad decisions than good decisions, or worse, if we can’t make decisions at all, it’s should be no surprise when financial security  remains elusive.

When it comes to finances and investment decisions, many people are not wired to be able to make decisions dispassionately, without emotions clouding their reasoning; and that’s when people tend to make the most behavioral mistakes with their financial decisions. Understanding these behavioral mistakes and how to avoid them is crucial to achieving financial security.

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Year-End Tax Planning Begins Now

Year-End Tax Planning Begins Now

With the holiday season looming, it’s not too soon to do your year-end tax planning. One of the consequences of achieving financial success is that, what was once a relatively straightforward tax return increasingly becomes more involved as more tax issues come into the picture. You may have more things to track, forms to file, and you also may also experience bracket creep which can suddenly change the way you manage your taxes and finances.

Waiting until tax filing time to deal with these issues could be hazardous to your wealth.  As your finances improve, it would be important to become more knowledgeable about your taxes to avoid any surprises.

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It's Harvest Time Tax Loss That Is

It's Harvest Time Tax Loss That Is

Most of us live here in New England because we love the change of seasons. It's  always bittersweet when we bundle up for those last few trips to our farmer's markets, become tourists ourselves of the spectacularly colorful transformations of our hillsides, and finally wait for that first snowfall. Our farmer friends are in the process of gathering their final crops and putting their fields to bed. We too should be considering our own harvest...... tax loss that is.

Whether you manage your own portfolio or have a financial advisor, you know that every investment you pick is not going to be a winner. Companies disappoint, economies disappoint, stocks and funds go up and down in the process. When your funds are done, what can you do about it?

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Finding the Hidden Assets

Finding the Hidden Assets

I have advised many clients on divorce and the related tax issues, the majority have been women and invariably, they tell me their husbands may be hiding assets.

These clients also fall into three categories: First, there are those who are looking to divorce in as efficient and friendly way as possible. They ask for advice on things like property transfers, deductibility of legal fees and alimony payments. The seek guidance on the process and what to expect. They are looking for information that allows them to have better control of the process and hopefully the outcome. They also want to confirm that the assets their husbands are declaring are complete and accurate.

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Support Your Children Not Their Ex’s

Support Your Children Not Their Ex’s

We support our children through the bumps and bruises of childhood, the awkward teen years, the stress of college and then they launch and we hope for the best. They marry and have children and we lovingly throw ourselves into the joys of grand parenting, showering our grandchildren as if they were our own with gifts, vacations…..anything and everything!. But what happens in the unfortunate event of divorce. How can we avoid sharing our wealth with their now ex spouses if that is our intention?

I have watched a trend among high-net-worth clients who now navigate the possibility of their children’s divorce. In the past they would have used trusts to protect estate assets, possibly protecting them from distributing assets to their children when they are too young or inexperienced. Today they are still using trusts but the provisions are changing. Instead of telling trustees to distribute income or assets at specific times or under specific conditions, such as attaining a age 25, 30 or 35, they are not mandating distributions at all. Today they are giving more discretion to the trustee possibly delaying the distributions until the trustee determines it appropriate.

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If you are getting a divorce the clock is ticking!

If you are getting a divorce the clock is ticking!

While the new Republican tax legislation is called the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) there will be no tax cuts for folks divorcing in 2018 and the message is hurry up!

What is new in the TCJA?

Before the new legislation, divorces that included alimony, income payments from one spouse to another, were tax deductible to the person paying the alimony and taxable to the recipient. Under the new legislation this deduction is eliminated and the payment to the soon to be ex spouse is no longer taxable. why hurry? Only agreements signed and approved by December 31, 2018 will retain the old tax characterization.

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Don’t Let Divorce Derail Good College Plans

Don’t Let Divorce Derail Good College Plans

Divorce is so complicated that the decisions regarding college planning are often left unaddressed causing disagreements when they do have to be made. Most divorce agreements have a plan as to how to divide other assets that have been accumulated during the marriage, the family home, cars, collectibles, joint bank accounts, retirement and brokerage accounts but when it comes to other savings, such as college savings or 529 plans, often the agreements are too vague. Couples operate from assumptions, such as  the parent who established the account controls it, and absent any other agreement that will be true. But we all have suffered the  consequences of operating under the wrong assumptions, and for divorcing families, when they make assumptions, the mistakes they make often mean they pay more for college education than is necessary.

For example, during divorce most accounts are divided but that does not have to be the case for college savings or 529 plans. In fact the division of these accounts may either overcomplicate things or serve failing purposes. There is much more to consider in dealing with educational funding accounts than a simple division of assets.

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Financing Our Home Again

Financing Our Home Again

As couples move through all the decisions their divorce requires them to make, inevitably they must make a decision regarding their home. In my most recent post I discussed the emotional impact of this decision both on each divorcing party and their children. Once we have come to understand the place our home has within the values of our overall finances and wealth, we must decide what to do with it.

That question while seeming simple, do we keep the home or sell it, in reality has complicated answers. Selling or buying a home can be intimidating at any stage of our lives but if it needs to be made at the time of our divorce it can be even more challenging. What  affects our decision is the value of the home in relation to all other marital assets, the individual income of each party, the stage of their lives where they are divorcing, and what they need to do to secure their financial future moving forward. I’d like to address these issues individually.

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Our Kids Our Homes After the Split

Our Kids Our Homes After the Split

Let’s face it, everyone hates to move. I want to meet the person who tells me, “I love packing up and moving from my home to a new place!” If I ever do meet them I might check for fever, delirium or the possibility that maybe this whole divorce really has gotten to them. So it’s not surprising that the home can be an emotional conversation for the family in the midst of an already difficult time. It usually is one of the first issues that has to be confronted especially when it is clear you can’t stay together any longer. S0 one  family member is definitely moving now and maybe both if the family homestead is not affordable to either.

In later blogs I will discuss the financial considerations in keeping or selling the house in divorce, but first I wanted to talk about the impact of  leaving the home on the children.

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Home is Where the Heart IS

Home is Where the Heart IS

I sold my home this month. The home where I raised my kids, the only home my youngest son knew with me and the home I had moved into just six months before my separation.

My sons and I spent all of the holidays reminiscing about the times we had there, a trampoline pit that morphed into a fire pit, a back porch that transformed from hosting birthday parties for youngsters to a place of porch gatherings for teenagers just chillin. I remembered all the conversations that were the victims of my eavesdropping. I remembered all the good times and good friends.  We sat on the steps our final night and just had a good cry!

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Divorce Our Personal Tsunami

Divorce Our Personal Tsunami

In 2011, an earthquake and tsunami tore through Japan. 16,000 people died during the natural disaster and many communities are still recovering 6 years later.

But one coastal Japanese town is offering a unique way to help many Japanese who lost a family member deal with their grief in a unique way—a white telephone booth with glass panels. Sitting atop a grassy hill in Otsuchi, overlooking the Pacific Ocean the phone booth, which only has a disconnected rotary phone inside, has become a place where families who lost a loved one suddenly in the tsunami can communicate to the loved one they lost.

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If Marriage Is About Love, Divorce Is About Money

If Marriage Is About Love, Divorce Is About Money

A new client came to me this month at the recommendation of her Family Law attorney. She wanted to consult with a financial advisor while preparing for her mediation.

She wasn’t necessarily looking for a specialist, a Certified Financial Divorce Analyst, just someone who could help her envision her financial life post divorce.

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Moving On Smoothly

Moving On Smoothly

I recently read a good article of “moving on after the storm of divorce” by paying proper attention to post divorce details in order to preserve the settlement agreement. Some suggestions included preparing a post divorce budget, reviewing insurances including life, health, property casualty, and considering taxes.

While I absolutely agree that any of these items can derail an agreement if not duly considered, I disagree that attention to these details should be done post divorce. I personally recommend that all these items be considered while hammering out the agreement.

 

We all know that the accumulation of data and information pre-divorce can be time consuming, complex and overwhelming. The court requirements generally have us looking backwards to past real estate values, previous investment and retirement account statements, previous tax returns and old budgets. But when you think about it, none of this information will be relevant to either party post divorce. One party will own the real estate and all costs and liabilities attached to it.  One party will retain some of the investment and retirement accounts and the other will have the balance. No ones budget will be the same. Many insurance premiums will change, health insurance requiring changes, life insurance now deemed not necessarily needed or adequate, and property casualty insurances that will be the sole responsibility of one or the other. And income taxes certainly change with regard to filing status, sharing of gains, losses and deductions.

For all these reasons I counsel all clients to look at the implications of various settlement considerations from primarily a post divorce view. What their budget is to day is not nearly as important as what it will be post divorce. How will divorce affect their health insurance costs? What will it feel like to pay the property taxes by themselves? What are the additional income taxes and how does that affect my paycheck gong home? All these are vital considerations in understanding if a settlement is even “affordable” to all.

Good divorce counseling should include both legal and financial consulting with the attorney focused on the legal issues and a financial advisor demonstrating alternative settlements as they will impact each party financially. The best settlement is one with no surprises!

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Company Info

Wheeler Professional Park
1 Oak Ridge Road
Building 3 Suite 2W
West Lebanon, NH 03784

Office: (603) 277-9953
Cell: (603) 667-0471
sboyle@sjboylewealthplanning.com

SJ Boyle Wealth Planning, LLC is a registered investment advisor in the state of New Hampshire. We work as a personal financial advisor to families in Hanover New Hampshire and Vermont helping them coordinate every aspect of their financial affairs including their educational, investment, retirement and estate planning. As a Registered Investment Advisor we work in a fiduciary capacity serving their best interests first!

Information presented is for educational purposes only and does not intend to make an offer or solicitation for the sale or purchase of any specific securities, investments, or investment strategies. Investments involve risk and, unless otherwise stated, are not guaranteed. Be sure to first consult with a qualified financial adviser and/or tax professional before implementing any strategy discussed herein. Past performance is not indicative of future performance.

Copyright © 2019 SJ Boyle Wealth Planning LLC. All rights reserved.