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Divorce and Your Money - #1 Divorce Podcast

Visit us at www.DivorceAndYourMoney.com Divorce and Your Money is your guide to avoiding costly mistakes during divorce. Shawn Leamon, Certified Divorce Financial Analyst and MBA, wants to help you learn the fundamentals of how to get a divorce. Whether you are looking for an uncontested divorce, a do it yourself divorce, or an online divorce, resources are available to offer guidance. Through his divorce podcast and divorce blog, Shawn offers his professional opinion on the best ways to handle the end of your marriage. He covers topics including how to file for divorce, divorcing a narcissist, and finding the best divorce attorney. Even tricky subjects such as a “what is a QDRO?” and “is alimony taxable?” are tackled through these venues. If you need to know what the first steps are or what you should do to head to trial during litigation, you can find resources to give you a step-by-step guide to what comes next. Think of his advice as an alternative to divorce support groups where you can find exactly what you need when you need it. He offers one-on-one divorce coaching to give you a solid grasp on the decisions that are bound to affect your financial future. Before you have a divorce decree in hand, you will likely go through some type of divorce mediation. For any spouse saying, “I want a divorce,” you need to make sure that you are getting the financial future you are entitled to. Do not allow yourself to be blinded by the emotional, legal, and financial burden that divorce can become. Instead, take control of your situation with sage wisdom to help all individuals make better financial decisions for their independent future. If you find yourself asking “where are the best divorce lawyers near me?”, Shawn can help you to recognize the best of the best. Whether you need a divorce in Texas, a divorce in Florida, or a divorce in New York, you will have all the knowledge you need to find the best team of professionals to assist you. You can start from a place of being legally separated or once you have already started to file for divorce using free divorce papers or an attorney. No matter where you or your marriage may be in the process, Shawn Leamon has professional advice to offer your unique situation. A simple no fault divorce or a high-stakes power struggle are all areas he has vast experience with during his work outside of Divorce and Your Money. Let his advice be a guide to help you get all that you need for a secure financial future in your divorce records. It will not make a difference whether you are getting a divorce in Ohio or a divorce in California if you are following the basic principles set out through Divorce and Your Money’s divorce blog, divorce podcast, and divorce coaching.
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Now displaying: July, 2018
Jul 31, 2018
Visit us at divorceandyourmoney.com for the #1 divorce resources in the USA and get personalized help. Learn about coaching services here.
 
Thank you for listening! Find a transcript of this episode below.
 
In this episode, we're trying to answer the question, what happens after you sign a divorce settlement, because the conception is that the divorce is over, but that's not true. There's still, unfortunately, a lot of work that needs to be done even after you have signed the divorce settlement. Because of that, I want to give you a sense of some of the things you need to be thinking about as soon as that settlement is signed because you can't just give up and call it a day. There's a lot that needs to happen after you sign the settlement and before and after the judge finally signs off on it. If you didn't listen to the previous episode, I strongly suggest you do.
                                  The two main tasks I group into these categories, the first being ensuring that you get, you receive, and also give up everything that you agree to. The second is that you need to update all of your accounts to make sure they reflect your new reality. Now, I'm going to get into what both of those things mean in depth in a moment. But the point is, is there's still a lot to do. I'm going to give you a process and a list of things to search for. For people who I go through in the coaching sessions, we oftentimes have a post divorce checklist and a post divorce summary of things you need to be thinking about the day your settlement is signed.
                                  First thing you do, step one, so you've signed the settlement, what do you do? You study it. What do I mean by study your settlement? Well, you need to gather a notepad, gather your calendar, and put yourself in a quiet room, get some highlighters, some different colored pens, however you take notes, and start making a list of everything that needs to happen as part of the divorce. You need to go, sentence by sentence, and make a note of everything you need to keep track of. If something is supposed to happen on a certain date, might be a house needs to be sold by June 30th, well you need to start putting on the calendar, "June 30th, house must be sold." Or if you get the kids' custody, if you alternate holidays every other year, well, you're going to need a multi-year calendar and start thinking about, "Oh yeah, here's the holidays every other year," and start planning those things out. Or if certain things have to happen on certain days of the week or certain times of the month, if you're expecting a payment or you have to make a payment every month on a certain day, you need to make those things and write those things down so they don't get lost. You need to start keeping track of them. These are going to be integral to your life, going forward, until they aren't.
                                  Another thing that you might need to think about as you go through your settlement, if you have to split retirement accounts, I have lots and lots of episodes in the archives about retirement accounts and QDROs and things like that. If you need to spend money or need to split the retirement accounts to get the money into the appropriate places, well, you might need a QDRO, a Q-D-R-O, QDRO. If you need one of those, those often take several months from the time that you get them to the time they're actually executed upon.
                                  Something else you need to think about. If you need to transfer money somewhere. All of these things, you're going to need to make a note of every little item that needs to happen as part of the divorce process to make sure that you're organized in there.
                                  The way that I like to do it is I actually ... It depends on your system, but oftentimes what I'll do with people is we'll go through your settlement, I'll read every line item, exactly how I described, and I'll put a little Word document together where we say, "Date, June 17th, 2018, this thing has to happen." Or "July 2019, this thing has to happen." We'll put it on one, or two, or three pages, however many pages it takes, and just list them out. Because I actually use a lot of my calendars just in a Word document format because it's easier for me to read than the normal calendar, but it's a great way to just keep everything organized. I can look and I say, "Hey, we're in the middle of August, and so, oh yeah, in two weeks, I have this thing that I need to do." If I don't and two weeks go by and that thing doesn't happen, maybe you were owed something, maybe something else, you need to make a note of that and figure out what to do. Anyways, I think you get that point.
                                  The first step was comb through your settlement and keep it all organized. The second step is to set up your new life. This is a step that a lot of people fail to handle properly in part because there's just a lot of moving parts to it and, quite frankly, some of the stuff involved in it is not the most fun thing in the world. That said, it is essential that you take care of these things. In fact, whenever I'm faced with a long, boring, and arduous process, now I don't always recommend this and you shouldn't do it too often, but I will treat myself to a nice bottle of wine or a nice, expensive drink. Now, I don't drink that much, but if I'm going to drink and I got to do some work, I'll get something expensive, treat myself, something pretty good, and I'll say, "All right, I'm going to get through this, but at least I'm going to have a couple of glasses of something nice as I go through these things that I don't necessarily want to do, but they are important.
                                  What's the first thing on that list of setting up your new life? Checking your credit report. Credit report is a very important thing to monitor. You need to make sure that everything on it makes sense. Whether you have $100 or $100 million, I strongly suggest you check your credit report. I've sat down with people of all income levels and many, many times you will find surprises on there or things you've forgotten about, and it's an essential thing that you should be doing.
                                  When you look at your credit report, of course with anything, you have to make sure that the information on there makes sense. But another thing that you should be thinking about is you should keep an eye out for every joint account. Any account that has your spouse's name on it with your name, you need to be closing. You cannot have joint accounts open. Well, you can have joint accounts open, but it's very dangerous to keep joint accounts open after you are divorced. Here's why.
                                  Believe it or not, I've seen examples like this happen. Let's say you have a house with a home equity line of credit and both of your names was on this home equity line of credit, but there was a zero balance, so you never used the home equity line of credit. You just had it, should you need it. Well, a couple of years goes by and, all of a sudden, you start getting collection notices in the mail. It turns out that you never took your name off that home equity line of credit. Your spouse, your ex-spouse for two years at this point has already ... or needed money for something, who knows what, and decided to draw down your home equity line of credit and took a bunch of money out. Guess what? They didn't pay it back, or didn't pay the interest, or didn't pay it as agreed. Who's on the hook for that? You are, even though you haven't used that account yourself, even though you've been divorced.
                                  Those little things happen all the time. If you have any joint credit cards, any joint loans, any mortgages, anything with your name on it and your ex-spouse's name on it, close it. Or at least have a very clear process for how you're going to close it to make sure that those accounts don't stay out hanging out outstanding.
                                  Now, in conjunction with closing some credit reports and credit accounts, you need to open new accounts. If you have a joint bank account, for instance, well, as soon as you can feasibly close that joint bank account, you should. But at the same time, you're going to need a place to put your money. You need to start opening accounts of your own. I speak with many of you, particularly the stay-at-home parents, but many of you who don't have accounts in your name, it's okay. Not a big deal. Now is the time to start doing that. There's no judgment. There's no problem. You just need to walk into your nearest bank. You don't have to have a relationship with them. You just have to have an ID, it has to be convenient for you, and start opening up your new accounts. Most banks are very accommodating. You just find a place that works for you.
                                  Same with credit cards and credit accounts. I've sat with many of you before and we walk you through the process of getting a credit card. Getting a credit card, there's a thousand different options. You have to complete what can feel like a daunting application process. But oftentimes, you just need to do it. I will walk through with you how to open a credit card account. Or you can do it yourself and just kind of do the research and figure out a credit card that is good for you.
                                  I know people whose families made millions of dollars a year and they got divorced, and one of the spouses never had a credit card before. We were just like, "Hey, let's sit and figure out how to apply for that so that you can have that at your disposal." I know people who don't make very much money and are super savvy in that regard and that isn't an issue for them. But wherever you are, make sure that you have some of the basic financial things taken care of.
                                  Now, shifting gears a little bit, you need to update your will and estate planning documents. As I said, you might need a glass of wine for some of these things. This is definitely one of those topics where a nice glass of wine makes it a little less painful to deal with. Will and estate planning documents. I've talked about this on the podcast before, but estate planning is basically just so everyone knows is estate planning is the process of planning for what happens if something happens to you, meaning if you die or if you're in capacitated. Unfortunately, it'll probably happen to us in one way or another at some point, and so the question is what do you want to happen with your stuff, who do you want making decisions, et cetera, et cetera. There are a lot of questions involved in that that are not necessarily the most fun to think about, but they are important.
                                  I want you to write down these four documents. You need a will, you need a health care proxy, you need a power of attorney, and potentially a trust. These four things can be very useful to you. If you want to find someone who can help you with this, you should look for an estate planner near you. I work with estate planners as well, but you should look for a local one. Many of them have fixed fee packages for the basics. It oftentimes costs a few thousand bucks, but it's essential. You need these four documents. You should certainly be asking about these four documents. I'm not going to get into all the intricacies. There's people who spend 70 years, 50, 60, 70 years of their career just doing these things, so I'm just going to tell you to look them up. The will, the power of attorney, health care proxy, and trust. They can be very helpful to you and they are essential for you after divorce.
                                  Now, if you already have these documents, you need to update these documents. Most of the time when you are married, these documents are written in the context of giving everything to your spouse to manage and to handle, which, while you're married, oftentimes makes the most sense. But now that you are divorced, these things will need to be updated and you need to go through them. Find a local estate planning attorney to help you. It doesn't have to be expensive, but everyone needs to get those basics done, and if you already have them done, to update them after the divorce process.
                                  Next thing you need to do is check the beneficiary on every account. What does that mean? Well, your bank account, your investment account, your retirement account, your pension plan, everything has a place it'll go when you die. You need to make sure that those things are still within your wishes. You might want to give everything to your kids.
                                  Oh, I should also mention something important. As I said about the will, the same applies to some of these financial accounts. Many of these financial accounts default to your spouse when you were married. If you don't update them and something were to happen to you, believe me, it happens every day, your ex-spouse will end up with a bunch of stuff that you had no intention for them having, and it could be many, many years or decades later. Just take care of this thing now. You got to look at every bank account, every investment account, every retirement account, and ask the institution that manages it for the beneficiary designation. That's what the term is called. Who is the beneficiary of this account if something were to happen to me? They will give you an answer. It's a very common question. You need to make sure it's within your wishes. You can make it your children. You can make it friends. You can make it a brother, a sister. You can make it anyone. But most of the time, you don't want to keep it as your spouse.
                                  Next thing on your list. If you haven't already, you should speak with a financial advisor. Now is a great time to get a financial plan together and one that may work well for you. What you do is you find a local financial planner. Now, I have in the archives I think a seven or eight part series only on the financial planner. If you get the quick start guide, which has all the podcast episodes in it, there is a huge multi-hour series on financial advisors because it's a very important topic. You should check that out. But also, you can ask your friends. I'm sure one of your friends has a financial advisor that they work with. They could be local, they could be online only. There's lots of great financial advisors out there that can help you, regardless of your situation. You should find one. Talk to them. Just because you talk with a financial advisor does not mean you have to hire that person, but it's worth having an initial consultation in that regard to see with one or two or three, to see if one of them may work with you.
                                  Finally, speak with an accountant. The year after you get divorced, a lot of things change. What do I mean by that? I mean your tax status changes, you might be moving houses, you might have other things that are changing in your life, and particularly even if you just do it for one year and one year only, this is one of those years where it makes a lot of sense to speak with an accountant in this area and just to explain what's going on, make sure there's no major tax things that you need to be aware of, make sure your life is set up properly. An accountant can really help with that and those things. I strongly encourage everyone, particularly the year after they get divorced, to add an accountant to their team and their list, just to make sure they're not running afoul of any rules and that they maximize their ... or I should say, minimize the amount that they pay in taxes in the following year.
                                  A lot of stuff in there in regards to what to do in between signing a settlement or right after you sign a settlement, but this is very important information. It's a lot of stuff to take care of and think about, but you can do it. It's just step by step. That's what I always say. Sometimes someone will say, "Well, what's the next step?" I'll give them the next step. Then they'll say, "Well, what's the step after that?" Most of the time, my response is going to be, "Don't worry about it. We'll get there when we get there. For now, we got to focus on one step at a time and you knock them out from there." It's not much more complicated than that, but you have to kind of do these things to make sure that you take care of the rest of your life from a financial perspective.
Jul 17, 2018
Visit us at divorceandyourmoney.com for the #1 divorce resources in the USA and get personalized help. Learn about coaching services here.
 
Thank you for listening! Find a transcript of this episode below.
 

In this episode, I want to discuss what happens after you sign a divorce settlement. The past month has been one of the busiest I've had in a while and the end of the year is looking to continue down that path. You know, as I've mentioned on a previous episode, the tax laws regarding alimony in divorce change in six months, and so that's creating a lot of pressure for people to get their divorces wrapped up before the end of the year, because there's often tax benefits to both sides, for wrapping up this year instead of delaying a year when the law changes in a big way.

                                    If you don't know what I'm talking about, be sure to listen to episode 170 for some of the details and I'll be discussing it more in future episodes. But one of the things that's happened over the past month or so is that a lot of cases I've been working on are wrapping up, which is a bittersweet feeling for me.

                                    I'm of course always happy that people are finishing their divorce and they get to move on with their life. But also, I feel a little bit of sadness because I get to work closely, closely with you during the process, during a tough time and then, many cases, we part ways and we don't have to speak with each other any more, which is also fine, but I do very much enjoy working with you. It is the nature of what I do.

                                    And one of the things that a couple people have mentioned as their cases have wrapped up and they said, "Shawn, you don't really speak much about what to expect after the settlement's assigned. What should I be doing?" And I want to provide you some guidance to that effect. Now, of course, it varies for everyone, but I do want to outline some of the details of the divorce process once you have that settlement signed.

                                    Most of you are going to go through the process where you negotiate a settlement and you sign the settlement, versus where a judge makes the final decree in terms of who gets what. Now, some of you do have to go that way, particularly in the tough divorces, but I expect most of you will be negotiating and signing some form of settlement.

                                    And so what does that look like? And then what do you do afterwards? What kind of things should you be thinking about after divorce? One other thing I want to bring up is I have a, I think it's a seven or eight part series on choosing a financial advisor and financial topics you should know after divorce in the quick start guide. It's in the store. It's part of the full archive of the podcast. That might be something for you to check out because that is some critical information.

                                    I mean, it's hours of information just of like basic financial concepts, how you choose a financial advisor, how do you know what to look for, how do you make sure you make the right option? But anyways, one of the things I want to talk about is, so how does the settlement process wrap up and then what do you do afterwards?

                                    Now, for some of you, your settlement process actually might occur in two phases before you get to the settlement agreement. There's the part of the settlement that I might call the term sheet, which is ... in this part of the settlement, you outline basically everything that you want and your spouse wants on a sheet of paper or a few sheets of paper, without really legal terminology in there.

                                    The way to think about the term sheet in a way is like, if you ... and I've had some clients do this, if you and your spouse, were to negotiate by email and you say, "I want this house," or "I want the house, you can keep this car, I want this car, we're going to split custody in this way," but you just go back and forth by email.

                                    And then you say, alright, here's the final email with everything that we want. And you say, okay, good. That's the kind of the term sheet part of it. And what you do with that term sheet, I call it, because that's what you use, that's what you call it in the investing world. You say, all right, we have a term sheet, let's make it legal.

                                    And so the term sheet is here's all the details that we've agreed to, and then you take it to your attorney and say, "Can you please draw this up in the appropriate legal framework so the court can sign off on it?" And so, for some of you, that's the first phase. Now, not everyone goes through that step of negotiating a term sheet first. Some of you go straight to the actual legal settlement document.

                                    In which, you're going to get to this document in one way or the other, but sometimes it's just depending upon your process, you go through the term sheet phase first. But when you get to the legal documentation, this is when the attorney drafts up exactly what each of you is getting.

                                    And the legal documentation, you're going to really want to pour over every word, every phrase, every sentence in this document to make sure that it not only matches what you agreed to, but also is what you want. I've seen cases where people sign settlements and they don't read it closely and you go back a few months later and you look at it and you're like, "What did that paragraph mean?" Or, "That's not what I wanted it to say. I thought it was supposed to be this," and that can easily be avoided by studying your settlement in the first place.

                                    And let's just say you've gotten through those two phases. So you've got your term sheet, you've gotten a settlement and everything is wrapped up and you submit the paper to the court. That's an important step three, remember, just because you signed the settlement agreement ... This is an interesting topic that I actually will get into now; I didn't anticipate talking about it now.

                                    So depending upon what's going on, you can sign and agree to the settlement agreement and sign it, have everything done, but not submit it to the court. And if you don't submit it to the court, you will never be divorced. But there are reasons sometimes that you might not want to submit that settlement agreement to the court and you might want to delay. Now, there's many moving parts when it comes to delaying, particularly with the tax law changes and other things.

                                    But, if you wanted to delay, you can, and I'll give you reasons that people delay that come up pretty regularly. One is for tax purposes for filing jointly. So let's just say, you know, we're getting to the end of 2018 as I record this and, you know for tax purposes or you think for tax purposes, you want to file just one more time as a married couple because it makes sense for you. I know plenty of people who will negotiate their full settlement, sign the paperwork and not submit it to the court and just say, "Hey, we'll submit it to the court in 2019," the next year. Because for tax purposes, it'll save them many thousands or tens of thousands of dollars.

                                    I've had some lesser common reasons, so one of my favorite reasons, I had a client who I'll just say lives in a town with one golf course and in order to keep their membership active at the only golf course in town, they wanted to stay one more year on the married membership because as soon as they became a divorced couple, they would be doubling their membership dues.

                                    And if you know anything about golf courses, those dues can be in the tens of thousands of dollars. So to save one more year playing golf, they decided to save some expense. They decided to keep their membership, or themselves divorced, or excuse me, I should say, let me restart. They kept themselves married until they renewed their membership as a married couple for one more year, so they could save up the extra money for the golf course and the increased golf dues they were facing.

                                    There could be any number of reasons that you may want to delay your divorce. And so, some people may do that, but you also need to keep in mind that if you have not submitted the paperwork to the court, you cannot get divorced and you should not be making other major financial decisions until you know exactly what is planned. And I'll give you an example of why that's a big deal.

                                    I have a client who needs to ... I actually have several people in this category, who need to refinance their home. And as part of the refinancing process, the first thing the mortgage lender says is, "Hey, where's the paperwork that says you are divorced?" And so, they will ask for, that court signed, judge signed, county signed document that says I am officially divorced before they can make any major financial moves.

                                    But let's say you submit the paperwork and you have everything in the court and everything is good to go. What do you do? Well, you wait. Unfortunately, just because you've signed the paperwork, just because you submit the paperwork, still doesn't mean you're divorced. And depending upon where you live, it could still be many, many months before you are divorced in the eyes of the law. I'm going to give you an example.

                                    I spend a lot of time in New York, in New York City, and have several clients there. Some cases, this is crazy, even as I think about explaining it, you can file for divorce and submit the paperwork in August, so the eighth month of the year, and I'll tell you why this is relevant in just a second. We can file the paperwork then. You can get through the end of the year and not have official divorce paperwork.

                                    I've had cases where someone files paperwork and August and they don't get the divorce paperwork until February or March of the next year. And because the New York court is so backed up and there's so many cases and not enough judges and not enough resources, unfortunately, in many cases, that it takes the court six months or can take the court six months to officially recognize the divorce.

                                    Now, of course, they know that they'd be causing a lot of trouble for people if the divorce didn't go through until February. What happens is the New York court is so busy and they understand how much turmoil that could cause is they will backdate the divorce papers oftentimes. So if you file for divorce in August and they don't get to it until February, they'll say, "Hey, sorry, we just got to it. But because you filed it an August, we're going to consider you legally divorced as of December 31st of the previous year."

                                    But the point is to bring up is that just because you filed the paperwork still means you need to wait. And from a practical perspective, you've just gone through a very intense process. And even though it's not over yet, one of the first things I recommend you do is you wait.

                                    No need to rush into major decisions. Right after you file the divorce paperwork and you submit it to the court. First thing I say is breathe. Relax. Take a week or two. Focus on yourself, focus on your kids, your family, your work, whatever you've been neglecting during this process. Now that you've gotten this major step involved, take some time to get back to normal or to prepare for the future and don't make any major decisions unless you absolutely have to. If you take some time to breathe, you will get into a position where you can think clearly about the next steps of your life and the next phases of your life and get organized and prepare for the things that we need to do and that you will need to do as you go forward.

                                    Once you've taken some time to breathe, decompress, relax a little bit. I want to cover two main areas that you're going to need to focus on going forward. I'm going to cover these in the next episode. The first thing you're going to need to do is you're going to make sure that you get and give up everything that you agree agreed to as part of the divorce process. And the second thing you should do is update all of your accounts to make sure they reflect your new reality.

                                    Stay tuned for the next episode. I'm going to get into those very soon and get into some of the nitty gritty details of what those two things mean.

 

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