As portrayed by numerous real and reel life stories, divorce is one of the most sensitive moments one could experience in their life. While grieving a divorce is often a private affair, it is also the dissolution of a lifelong social commitment, making it difficult to escape the public eye. In conservative countries like India, where divorce rates are only 1%, the stigma surrounding divorce persists. Marriage involves two families, making the impact widespread and affecting various aspects of life – social, economic, legal, and psychological. But while dealing with the emotional jolt caused by the process, the financial aspect often gets overlooked, worsening the situation further.
Navigating the financial impact can be trickier for women. For most Indian women, financial planning is unfamiliar, with around 50% not actively investing, according to a survey by LXME. Furthermore, a UBS global study indicates that even for high-net-worth women, the men in their households manage their long-term financial planning. Hence, it is hardly surprising that even the most intricately manoeuvred divorces can get financially overwhelming for women.
While most are aware of the role of a divorce lawyer, few are aware that it is a wealth advisor that could save them time, effort, and money in the long term.
A case highlights this issue – a woman entrepreneur discovered her husband had left their decade-long marriage and migrated to the US with his affair partner. She felt financially crippled as her husband managed their money.
Consulting a wealth advisor is essential, especially for the HNI and UHNI communities, while undergoing a divorce. Wealth advisors are custodians of wealth for business families and the affluent community. They assist with emotionally intelligent financial decisions before, during, and after divorce.
Bringing in a wealth advisor is crucial at two stages:
- During the divorce, they assist in deciding settlement sums, providing financial comfort, and supporting attorneys.
- Post-settlement, they navigate inherited wealth and guide investments, succession planning, and philanthropy.
Once a wealth advisor has been onboarded, here are 5 initial questions to initiate the engagement in the right direction:
Can you help me understand the financial impact of my divorce? What financial implications should I expect?
The wealth advisor can assess the assets, liabilities, and income to provide a clear picture of the financial impact. They can help anticipate potential changes in the financial situation, such as alimony or child support payments, division of property, and potential adjustments to lifestyle and expenses.
What are the tax implications of dividing assets during the divorce? Can you provide me with guidance on how to minimize my tax liabilities?
Dividing assets during divorce can trigger tax implications. A professional wealth advisor will be able to guide on tax-efficient strategies for asset division, such as considering cost basis, capital gains, and tax consequences of different types of assets. They can help minimize tax liabilities and make informed decisions to preserve wealth.
How can we manage ownership of joint custody accounts during and after the divorce? What should be done to ensure both parties have equal access to these accounts?
Managing joint custody accounts can be complex, but it's crucial to ensure fair access for both parties. Wealth advisors can help establish a framework for managing these accounts during and after the divorce. They can assist in setting up appropriate permissions, establishing clear communication channels, and implementing systems to track contributions and expenses to ensure both parties have equal access and transparency.
How do we demarcate our assets if we have co-ownership of an enterprise? What is the best way to determine the fair value of the enterprise, and how can we ensure that each party gets their fair share of the assets?
When co-owning an enterprise, determining the fair value and equitable distribution of assets can be complex. The wealth advisor can facilitate the process by engaging professionals who specialize in business valuation. They can help ensure a fair assessment of the enterprise's worth and work with legal experts to structure the division of assets, ensuring each party receives their fair share in accordance with the agreed-upon terms.
Can you help me create an investment strategy to meet my financial goals post-divorce? How can I ensure that my investments are aligned with my current financial situation and goals?
After divorce, reassessing financial goals and investment strategy is crucial. The wealth advisor collaboratively develops an investment strategy tailored to the new circumstances. Considering factors such a risk tolerance, time horizon, income requirements, and long-term objectives, they can recommend investment options and create a diversified portfolio aligned with the current financial situation and goals. Regular reviews and adjustments can help ensure investments continue to support the divorcee’s evolving needs.
In life, things often don’t go as planned. There are turbulences in paths we deem to be the safest. Divorce is never pleasant, and it must be admitted that no amount of planning could help manage the emotional burden of the process entirely. But most important is getting through the testing period and coming out of it still ferociously independent. Sound financial planning is crucial during the precarious process of divorce, and the role of a reliable wealth advisor cannot be understated.