PARIS Financial Planning

5 Ways to Protect Your Finances Against Unforseen Life Events

5 WAYS TO PROTECT YOUR FINANCES AGAINST UNFORSEEN LIFE EVENTS~ Navigating Financial Disruptions

Planning for the predictable is easy, it's that unpredictable that causes women the most worry and stress.  As women we tend to stay within our comfort zone when it comes to finances, focusing on what we know and avoiding what we don't, yet it is that exact behavior that can create a tsunami of challenges and issues for women especially after losing a spouse after death or divorce. 

It is important to be mindful of the following life events that can happen to anyone that can sabotage your financial lifestyle and security unless you protect yourself against the unexpected.

1. Divorce

No one anticipates a divorce. When you take vows with your spouse, you expect to be together forever. It's exciting to save and invest together for your lifetime dreams and the future.

When divorce does loom, your retirement savings and other assets could be at risk. Money that is in joint accounts will likely be split down the middle, decreasing your retirement savings.  Check the laws for community property states. Home equity will also be halved since one of you will have to buy the other out. Otherwise, you can both sell the house and share the profit, but you may not be able to take advantage of any good selling rates. You could be stuck taking what you can get in whatever housing market it happens to be.

At times like these, every decision that you made in the past can have a serious long-term impact on your financial future.  Don't defer all financial decisions to your spouse and do take a partnership role in all financial matters. Understanding your financial life is essential, especially during these times of crisis. This is NOT the ideal time to become engaged.

I encourage every woman to become more aware and knowledgeable as to what you own as a couple and position your assets to work in coordination with your ideal lifestyle.  

2. Widowhood

If you lose your spouse in an untimely way, you could be stuck with a mortgage and bills you can't pay with just one income. Grief may also prevent you from returning to work right away.  

Take out life insurance policies for both you and your spouse. When one passes, the other one will be able to have the financial freedom to choose whether to stay in the home or downsize.

Get yourself  knowledgeable and involved in all financial matters.  Put together a file of copies of your most important documents and keep it in an accessible place. This file should include copies of birth certificates for both of you and any dependent children, your marriage license, the deed to your house, military discharge papers; a list of assets, insurance policies, wills and medical powers of attorney.

3. Disability or Prolonged illnesses

When you are accumulating assets and investing for the future you don't anticipate yourself or your partner being disabled and unable to earn enough money to live on. Disability insurance is a good hedge against such catastrophes. Consider disability policies for yourself, and your spouse. There are two basic types of disability insurance: group through work or membership in an organization and private. In addition you should have at least 3 – 6 months income in a rainy day fund to cover your living expenses during your waiting period. 

Proper planning in advance is essential because failure to do so can be devastating.  If there is the need for nursing home care, protect your assets with essential estate planning documents.  Although qualified money such as your 401(k) is in your name and social security number, your assets are combined if your spouse enters a nursing home.  Those assets will be required to be used to pay for nursing home costs until they are spent down to the limits set by the state and federal governments before you can qualify for Medicaid.  

4. Career Turning Points – Job Loss

Many people reach a point in their careers where they just don't have the drive anymore to hustle every day. Maybe you will feel that way in ten years, although you can't imagine that now.  Provide yourself a lifeboat strategy in the event that you experience career burnout. It happens to so many people; it's worth having a provisional plan. Keep a certain amount of your investments liquid.  This will give you the chance to invest in a personal endeavor or turning point in your career without getting nailed by early withdrawal fees on other investments.  Make provisions for a job loss with an emergency fund of 6-12 months to cover living expenses.

5. Aging Parents

People are living longer these days, but the cost of prescription medication and health care continues to skyrocket. Expenses related to assisted living and nursing care can wipe out your savings.

Consult with your parents to determine if they have long -term health care insurance.  Find out what and where are their resources for managing medical expenses or prolonged illnesses. Plan ahead so that you and your siblings can avail of other financial resources, such as Medicaid to pay for some of your parent's elderly expenses. Do thorough research about what assets are involved in determining Medicaid coverage.

If necessary, ensure that you and your siblings are on the deed of the family home in case you need to sell it to cover medical bills.

No matter how well you plan for your financial future, unforeseen financial events can cause emotional turmoil and sabotage your efforts. Are there steps you need to take to deal with these complications?  Make your own survival strategy.  Being fully prepared includes being ready. 


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