Death, Divorce, and Finances – The things nobody speaks about

Death, divorce and finances are three things that nobody ever wants to talk about and yet opening up could be exactly what’s needed. Here’s why.
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Nobody ever wants to talk about death, divorce, or finances. And it’s no surprise as to why – they can be scary things to consider, especially when two come at the same time. Unfortunately, this is often the case, with death or divorce forcing the topic of finances higher up the list.

So, before we get into anything, it’s probably worth mentioning the importance of simply talking about these things. We also want to point out that everyone’s circumstances are different, and if you need help it may be worth talking to an independent financial adviser.

Let’s talk about money
As an investment platform, talking about money is a large part of our job, but we know that’s not the case for everyone. One study found that 25% of Brits consider conversations about personal finances a no go.[1] What’s worse is that a separate study found that the same amount of Brits have lied to their family and friends about their finances.[2]

The fact is that people hate talking about money (don’t worry, the irony isn’t lost on us).

For many of us, it’s how we were raised – there are just some topics, like religion, death, politics, sex, and money, that you just don’t talk about. It’s rude to brag about how much money you’re on, ask your friends how much their house costs, or even check your parents have enough money to retire on.

Speak to any financial professional, and they’ll tell you that talking about money is a necessity. Talking to people is a great way about learning things - even reading this blog is giving you an insight you wouldn’t have had by ignoring the topic entirely.

So, what’s the biggest problem? It could be that there’s no real measurement of what financial success is. It could be a good credit score, paying off any debt, living to your means, building up a decent savings account, or even having your investments provide significant returns. The truth is that financial success is different for everyone. Someone just starting work for the first time will see their first pay check as a big win. At the same time, a person who’s looking to retire may find that having a pension that provides a liveable salary is an achievement. And neither one of those people are wrong – money and success are very subjective topics.

Then there’s the potential for embarrassment. Because nobody talks about it, you’re not sure if what you’re earning or have saved is good or bad. Which means coming out and saying it could leave you a bit red in the face.

Now, we aren’t about to suggest that you should talk to everyone you know about money. But it could be a good idea to make sure that everyone in your household is on the same page.

The importance of talking
The point we’re making is that talking early on can help make things easier in other situations – such as the two other core taboos of death and divorce.

For example, talking to elderly family members about their financial future – whether that’s your parents or grandparents and you’re talking about pensions or wills – can help put measures in place for the future, such as ensuring they’ll have enough to retire on, hire additional care, or understand what their wishes are when they pass on. A conversation around money at this point, no matter how quick, could help put things in perspective and guide future plans.

Similarly, talking to your partner about finances could also be a good idea, especially if you have a joint account or have shared names on household bills. This is important because either of your money mishaps could negatively impact the other – something neither of you probably want to do. Talking about money could prevent you from reaching this point and should give you a good idea on where you both stand financially, whether you’re in a relationship or coming out of one.

Divorce and your finances
If you’re going through or have been through a divorce or civil partnership dissolvement, then you probably have some understanding of how difficult finances can become in all of this. Firstly, you have to agree on how you split everything you own, that can include property, savings, cars, valuables, and even the family pets! You’ll also find out that divorce can impact your pension as well. 

Interestingly, arguments about money are one of the largest predicting factors of a divorce, with couple’s disagreeing on the subject weekly being over 30% more likely to end the relationship.[3] Being open about your money with a partner in a calm, logical way could help some couples to potentially avoid divorce.

Divorce can be a messy business, especially considering that a quarter of us have a habit of fibbing about our finances.[2] Failing to disclose all of your finances during the breakdown of a relationship could result in lengthy and potentially costly proceedings. In addition to this, if one party was honest, they could be looked on more favourably in court, and walk away with a bigger percentage of your shared finances.

Unfortunately, divorce often forces you to talk about your finances in a way you may otherwise never have done, which is why it could be a good idea to open a dialogue around this topic before getting to this stage. It’s a lot easier to talk about tricky topics without balancing the breakdown of a relationship at the same time.

It’s also worth noting that most divorced couples would need to increase their income by more than 30% to maintain the standard of living they previously held.[4] Talking about it could allow both sides of the relationship to take control of their finances and prepare for this eventuality.

Death and your finances
Death is an emotional time, and dealing with finances is one of the last things you probably want to be doing at this time. If the death was expected, then you may have been able to prepare for the occasion both financially and emotionally, which makes dealing with this inevitability a little easier. Talking about finances can allow you to ensure there’s a will in place, understand their last wishes, and even arrange for pre-paid funeral costs to remove some of the stress later on.

However, death isn’t always predictable, and this can be hard for everyone for many reasons. If we’re purely looking at the financial aspect, without a clear will, it can be tricky to ensure any inheritance goes to where it was intended. If you weren’t married or in a civil partnership when one spouse died, then their wealth isn’t automatically passed onto you either. There are also further complications if there are children, and even more so if there are children from previous relationships. Without clear guidance or knowing the deceased’s wishes, this can become a long and frustrating proceeding.

Preparing for the future
Getting your finances in line and preparing for the future is a great idea, and there is a myriad of ways to do it, from paying off any debt to building up savings. But one of the easiest ways is to know what your finances are doing and have a good understanding of where you stand.

As pensions are typically the most valuable thing people own after property, it could make things easier to bring all your pensions together. According to statistics, most people will have around 12 jobs in their lifetime.[5] So, if you were lucky enough to have built up a pension with each of those jobs, you may have a lot of different accounts floating around. Bringing your pensions into one place could be a good idea, and it’s surprisingly easy to do.

With Wealthify, transferring your pension is simple, just let us know who it’s with, provide us with the account numbers and permission to transfer. We’ll take care of the rest. Your Wealthify dashboard lets you keep track of your pension and have a better understanding of how financially prepared you are for anything life throws at you.

 

 

With investing, your capital is at risk, so the value of your investments can go down as well as up, which means you could get back less than you initially invested.

 

 

 

  1. https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/money-mental-health-social-norms-poll-a8893021.html
  2. https://www.independent.co.uk/money/spend-save/personal-finances-money-lie-debt-lloyd-bank-a8823221.html
  3. https://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/12/07/money-fights-predict-divorce-rates/
  4. https://divorce.usu.edu/files-ou/Lesson7.pdf
  5. https://www.thebalancecareers.com/how-often-do-people-change-jobs-2060467

 

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