WTOP Interview – Post Divorce: Don’t Leave These Loose Financial Ends Undone

Transcript of Interview:

Kyle Cooper: When a marriage ends, adding to the stress of the break up are difficult decisions about money and things that you have acquired together. Joining us now to talk through some of the issues is Dawn Doebler; cofounder of ”her wealth” and senior wealth advisor at Bridgewater wealth in Bethesda’.

Dawn Doebler: What we’ve seen coming with a lot of divorced women is both during the process and afterwards, they can make the mistake of not following through on many items that can have a significant financial consequence, life insurance is one of them. When you’re receiving alimony or child support through a divorce agreement, you want to make sure that that payment or payments are secured with life insurance. And that’s life insurance on the person who’s making the payments. So, for example, in the case of a husband who’s paying a wife both alimony and support, you want to make sure that you have a life insurance policy on his life. Even after divorce, you want to make sure that that policy stays in force and that the beneficiary remains who it should be whether that is you or your children. It’s very important, because if something happens to that person, then you lose the source of both of those income streams.

Kyle Cooper: Let’s talk a little bit about QDRO; will you explain to our listeners what QDRO is?

Dawn Doebler: It’s a term that a lot of people aren’t aware of. A QDRO stands for Qualified Domestic Relations Order and it’s used to divide retirement assets, things such as pensions or work 401(k)s and that’s because those assets are tax-advantaged and they’re held in the name of just one person. But if those have been split and transferred to the other spouse, they need to be able to handle that in a manner that doesn’t create tax. So, there’s a document named QDRO and its prepared typically by an attorney. When you are finalizing your divorce agreement, you want to make clear who is paying for the preparation of the QDRO and also who’s paying for the execution of it.

Kyle Cooper: Dawn, let’s talk a little bit about college expenses and 529 plans. How are those typically handled when there’s a divorce?

Dawn Doebler: One of the things that we see happens here and I typically recommend in the case of divorce of course depending on the situation is that, you consider splitting the 529 plans. A 529 has one individual beneficiary and one person (an adult) who acts as the custodian of the account. So, what can happen and we’ve seen happen is that the 529 plans may be stay with the father of the children. And then over time for whatever reason, perhaps both parents become responsible for paying for college, but only one of the parents has the funds available to pay for college.

Kyle Cooper: It seems in a divorce there’s just hundreds and hundreds of things to think about and figure out. I understand that you have put together a checklist to help people figure this out; can you talk a little bit about that with us?

Dawn Doebler: I want to mention here, actually I am divorced, so I’ve been through this process and I’ve also been through this process hundreds of times with clients. And what we see is, it’s often challenging to get just to the agreements and it can be a very long process, but equally challenging is post-divorce. You can have an agreement and then there’s a lot of work to execute in that agreement. So, we put together what’s called a ”Post-Divorce Checklist’‘ it’s on the Bridgewater wealth Her Wealth website, so that it can be downloaded. And it’s a lengthy checklist, some things may need the assistance of the CPA or an attorney or an investment advisor, but there are also a lot of things that women can do on their own.

Kyle Cooper: That’s Dawn Doebler, cofounder of Her Wealth and Senior Wealth Advisor at Bridgewater Wealth in Bethesda, MD talking to us tonight on Skype.