Separation Planning: An adviser’s Perspective

19 Apr 2021

Separation Planning: An adviser’s Perspective

Few client meetings have been as challenging. After years of being happily married, Sarah and her husband decided to separate, and the story of her acrimonious divorce was certainly distressing.

It started with a chance meeting, where in passing, Sarah mentioned the divorce. She assured me she’d had enough of advisers for a while and just wanted some time out. I insisted we meet as quickly as possible.

The first step was to sort out her will. Again, Sarah said she never wanted to speak to another solicitor again, but this quickly changed when I explained that if something happened to her today, all her assets would go to her ex-husband.

We also needed to update her superannuation. The binding nomination she had put in place, again leaving everything to her ex, needed to be changed to stop this flow of money, which would otherwise bypass her will and go directly to her husband.

I suggested Sarah think about putting in place a power of attorney so someone could step in and handle her affairs if she could suddenly no longer do this herself as well as think about appointing a medical power of attorney.

She needed to make provisions for her three children. While her ex-husband insisted, he’d continue in their lives, this could easily change in the future, particularly if he were to meet someone new.

Sarah had retained the family home but needed to re-mortgage it to buy out her ex-husband. As a successful professional in her own right, she could afford to do this but only just. A new family budget was needed, and she would have to stick to it, at least for the next few years.

So far, Sarah had been agreeable to my suggestions, but then I turned the conversation to two other key areas. To retain the family home, Sarah had agreed to give part of her superannuation to her ex-husband.