ESTATE PLANNING FOLLOWING A RELATIONSHIP BREAKDOWN

Thank you to Nelson Wockner for allowing me to share this article.  Added to the complexities of the emotional, legal and financial issues associated with the end of a relationship the following article covers some very important information that may be overlooked by some people.

When a personal relationship breaks down, your life changes.  A relationship breakdown means that you have to redesign your future plans.  Whilst an unwanted experience, it is the perfect time to make the changes to protect your future.

Estate planning is far more than a Will and may also include:

  • reviewing your jointly owned properties
  • reviewing your superannuation funds and death benefit nominations
  • reviewing your life and risk insurance policies
  • reviewing your circumstances to decide whether your Will should include Testamentary Trusts
  • reviewing your parents’ Wills & discussing whether a testamentary trust is needed to protect your inheritance
  • reviewing any powers of attorney & your arrangements where you are unable to manage your own affairs
  • understanding the reasons for asset protection & benefits of owning property in family discretionary trusts
  1.  Jointly Owned Property

Where you own a property with your former spouse or partner, you must verify whether the ownership is recorded  as ‘joint tenants’ or ‘tenants in common’.

Where owned as ‘Joint Tenants’, you must change the ownership to ‘Tenants in Common’.  A lawyer can do this for you – it’s a quick and inexpensive process – and no transfer duty is payable.

This process should be actioned immediately to ensure that your interests are protected from the moment of separation until the implementation of the final property settlement, which would most likely involve the property being transferred solely to one person – or the property being sold.

When someone dies owning a property as ‘joint tenants’, the surviving co-owner receives the deceased person’s share of the property.  The deceased’s interest in the property doesn’t form part of their estate and their Will does not apply to that property.

  1.  Superannuation Binding Death Benefit Nominations

Review your superannuation arrangements with your Financial Advisor and/or the trustee of your superannuation fund.

Where you had nominated your former partner to benefit from your Binding Death Benefit Nomination, notify the Trustee of your superannuation fund as to whom the death benefit will be paid following your death.

If you don’t maintain a current authority, the Trustee will make the decision – which may not be what you want.

  1.  Life & Risk Insurance Policies

Whilst an Enduring Power of Attorney and a Will are essential, your Attorney and your Executor will need sufficient cash to provide the support and care needed by you and your children and any other people who may depend upon you for financial support – potentially for many years.

Unless you have substantial reserves of cash and assets, you may need various risk insurance policies to provide a source of finance.

  1.  Companies & Trusts

You will need to engage your lawyer to review the shareholding and officeholders of private companies that you have an interest in.  You will have to do the same process regarding family discretionary trusts that you have an interest in.  These reviews will be undertaken by your family lawyer, and the necessary action taken as part of any property settlement.

Your accountant and financial planner will also need to participate in this process – or at the very least be informed as to what changes have been made to your financial planning arrangements.

5.  Your Will & Testamentary Trusts 

When you separate from your spouse or partner, you must review your Will.

A simple Will may be sufficient to provide the immediate assurance you need.  Later, you can implement a more sophisticated estate plan to better protect your family.

As your Will does not deal with all of your assets and financial affairs, the first thing to do is to identify what assets are owned by you and will be distributed by your Will.

You also need to review who should be the guardian of any of your children where your former spouse is unable or predeceases you.

6.  Parents Wills containing a Testamentary Trust

You may substantially improve your future financial security by ensuring that your parents create Wills containing a testamentary trust.

The benefit to you is that your parents’ assets can be protected from most claims made by any current or future spouse, or anyone else who seeks to take money from you.

Regardless of your matrimonial circumstances, where your parents are alive and mentally alert, it is crucial that you discuss with them the benefits, and you can take a pro-active role in ensuring that advice from an estate planning lawyer is obtained.

7.  Power of Attorney

Where you have an Enduring Power of Attorney nominating your former partner as your Attorney, you will need to revoke that document.  It is recommended that you obtain all signed original copies of the document.

You may wish to appoint a highly trusted and responsible person as your Attorney, as you may appreciate the comfort and security of knowing that if some unexpected event were to happen, you had made prior arrangements to ensure that you and your family were well looked after.

Where you lose the ability to make decisions for yourself, a trusted friend or family member is unable to make those decisions unless you have previously authorised them – using an Enduring Power of Attorney.

There are many issues to consider in appointing an Attorney, and you can appoint more than one Attorney for different tasks.

Appointing 2 separate trusted persons to act jointly may provide some additional protection.

As with an Enduring Power of Attorney, where you had previously signed a General Power of Attorney in favour of your former partner, you will need to revoke that document in writing.  Again, it is also recommended that you obtain all signed original copies of the document.

8.  Asset Protection – owning assets in your name

One of the more essential strategies used by professional people and business owners is that they do not own assets in their own name. 

Why?  Because if someone sues them personally & obtains a judgement against them, only assets owned by them can be taken from them – exceptions apply.

When someone contacts a lawyer about suing someone, if there are good prospects of success, the lawyer investigates what assets are owned by the “Defendant”.  If a lawyer spends time and money suing someone, they want to know that there are assets available.

A strategy successfully used by many Australians is to create a Family Discretionary Trust to hold assets, often using a company to act as the Trustee of the Trust.  The effect is that whilst you control the company and the Trust; it is the Trustee that owns the assets – rather than you.

There are other issues to be considered, and your lawyer and accountant will advise on the various issues that apply to your circumstances.

 

 

Disclaimer: The above is to be considered as general education. This is not advice and it is not to be acted upon without advice from a qualified professional who understands your personal circumstances.     Copyright © 2017 Wockner Lawyers. All Rights Reserved.

DAMNED IF YOU DO AND DAMNED IF YOU DON’T

My clients are so open and forthcoming about the very private details of their lives, they allow themselves to be raw and vulnerable, to express their thoughts and feelings honestly.  For many of them the decision to end the relationship was not theirs to make, it had already been done and they were left to deal with the fallout, facing an uncertain and unknown future.

For the ones who are unhappy and dissatisfied with their relationship, struggling with a feeling of unrest and discontent it’s like being caught between a rock and a hard place.

Reaching that point where there are one of two choices to be made, the day you realise the pain of staying will be greater than the pain of leaving and choosing to step off the edge into an uncertain and unknown future.

Like many women who find themselves in this situation, I had unconsciously distanced myself emotionally and physically for a number of years until one day I crossed that threshold, that point of no return, I had reached my ‘tipping point.’  That one more thing when in an instant I knew I was done and I also knew it was a case of damned if I do and damned if I don’t.

The fallout of this decision spread far and wide as very close family and life long friends distanced themselves, as I watched my children hurting so much that it broke my heart, as rumors spread and as my husband did everything he could to salvage our marriage knowing that I had reached the point of no return.

If you find yourself caught between a rock and a hard place, in a position where you are struggling to make a choice between two possible alternatives, before you do anything else it is important for you to get very clear about your decision, once you choose to walk a different path there is no turning back.

Knowing what I know now and having someone in my corner to support me, someone to walk the path with me, to help me navigate through this time would have made an incredible difference to me and to my life.

To help you with whatever is going on in your life right now, some area of your life where you may be feeling some internal conflict, this exercise will help you gain more clarity and help you redirect your focus towards what you want to be different.

CLARITY THROUGH CONTRAST

  • Take a sheet of paper, draw a line down the middle and on the left hand side write the word CONTRAST, on the right hand side write the word CLARITY
  • Fold the paper in half and only work on the Contrast Column. Make a list of all the things you feel are ‘wrong’ with your partner and your relationship, the longer the list the better.  Spend the time to work through this, come back to it over a few days and keep adding more things as they come to mind.
  • Once you have run out of things to write, open the paper and as you read each item on the Contrast list one at a time, write what it is you do want and how you would like things to be different.
  • Having completed both columns, fold the paper again and now only look at the list in the Clarity column and read through each one of them, make any changes as they come up for you.
  • There are several benefits to using a simple and easy exercise like this, it will assist your decision making, it may even open up the opportunity to begin a different conversation with your partner.

Example: “I feel taken for granted,” in the Clarity column “I want to feel appreciated.”

Remember: You cannot unring a bell!   Once something has been said or done and the wheels are in motion it cannot be undone.

 

Jenny is an absolute advocate and champion for women rediscovering themselves through the process of divorce.

If you’d love a quick chat with Jenny about anything, even your favourite wine, click here.  Jenny will be in touch as soon as she’s finished.

FAMILY PHOTOS ESSENTIAL FOR CHILDREN OF DIVORCE

My parents separated when I was 19, Dad moved on with his new lady, I saw him twice over the next 20 years.  He passed away unexpectedly and when we asked his ‘wife’ if we could have his photos she declined.  I have two photos of my dad, no family photos including photos of my childhood.

Divorced or divorcing parents take a moment to read this.

Guest post by Rosalind Sedacca 
I read a poignant comment on a blog recently written by a married mother of three. She was a child of divorce whose father moved out of the home when she was four. She talks about having very few pictures of herself as a child and only one of her mother and father together. Her grandfather found and gave her the photo just a few years ago. She framed it and has proudly displayed it in her home for her own children to see.

She explains how special that one photo of her with Mom and Dad is to her. It shows a little girl sitting happily on a lawn with her “real” family – before the divorce.

This woman grieves that she has no other photographs of her father and so few pictures of her childhood. She assumes that her mother hid or destroyed all other photos, “possibly to protect my stepparents’ feelings” as she moved on into other chapters in her life.

She goes on to send a message to all divorced parents who are transitioning into blended families. She stresses the importance of keeping previous family photographs to give to your children at the appropriate time – and not throwing them away. She implores people who are marrying men or women with children to “be the grownup” and acknowledge that children of divorce have other relationships that are meaningful and important to them.

Having pictures, gifts and other reminders of the non-custodial parent is very important to your children. We must never forget the connection and allegiance children innately feel toward both of their parents. When one parent is dismissed, put down or disrespected by the other parent, a part of your child is hurt as a result. They also feel that a part of themselves is flawed which creates much internal confusion.

Allow your children to keep their connection with their other parent – and with their past, unless they choose otherwise. If you’re a step-parent, don’t try to replace the birth Mom or Dad. There is room in a child’s heart to embrace and love you, as well, if you earn their trust and respect. You can’t demand or force it.

The woman’s blog post ends by asking us to imagine how we would feel if someone came into our family and discarded all the photos of Mom and Dad together. If we could just put ourselves into our children’s shoes on a regular basis we would avoid so many errors in parenting, and so many psychological scars.

This woman speaks for millions of children of divorce and her message needs to be heard. It’s also another validation for the concept of creating a family storybook when telling your children about the divorce. Showing the kids photos of the family together, during happier times in the past, reminds them that life moves in cycles and there will be good times ahead. It also shows them that they came from love and that love still exists for them – even if Mom and Dad are no longer living together.

Even if you’re long past the actual divorce, looking through family photo albums can spark conversation and sincere communication between you and your children.

Yes, it might bring up some tears and sadness, but talking about those feelings can be healing for everyone. You can also start new photo albums sharing happy times in the present so you can look back upon this chapter in your lives with smiles in the months and years to come. Isn’t this what you want for your family?

Rosalind Sedacca, CCT is a Divorce & Parenting Coach and founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network for parents. For Rosalind’s free ebook on Post-Divorce Parenting and other valuable resources on divorce and parenting issues, visit http://www.childcentereddivorce.com
© Rosalind Sedacca  All Rights Reserved

If you would like to chat to Jenny about anything at all, even your favourite wine click here to schedule a time https://calendly.com/jenny-smith-1/what-s-going-on-in-your-world

Find me on Facebook: www.facebook.com/DivorcedWomensClub

DIVORCE IS TOUGH – EVEN TOUGHER ON TEENS!

Guest Post By Rosalind Sedacca, CCT

We all know divorce is tough on families. Everyone is affected, especially the children. In most cases, the older the children, the more complex the reaction and more difficult the adaptation. There are many reasons why.

Older children have a longer history in the former family unit, regardless of how healthy or toxic it has been. Perhaps they remember better times when Mom and Dad interacted with them and each other with more joy and harmony. Even if there were no good times to look back upon, older children were accustomed to the existing family dynamic, knew their place in the structure, and felt a sense of comfort in “what is.”

Resisting change is a natural part of being human. For teenagers that resistance is compounded by a tendency to test boundaries and rock the status quo. Divorce or separation naturally makes all children feel powerless over their circumstances. For teens, who are feeling their oats and less likely to listen to parental authority, this is especially hard to accept.

Teens are also more judgmental and opinionated than younger children. Consequently they are less likely to blame themselves for the divorce (as younger kids frequently do) and more apt to take sides and blame one of their parents. Many therapists see teens side with the parent who is more permissive, taking advantage of the weakened parental structure to try to get away with more rebellious behaviors. Some teens choose to side with the more powerful parent – often Dad – to bolster their sense of security, even if they were emotionally closer to Mom.

Anger is a common reaction from older children. If they are not given the opportunity to vent, express their feelings and be heard, this anger often manifests as physical rebellion, drug or alcohol abuse or other inappropriate behaviors. To complicate matters, communication is often more difficult with teens who are acting out because they are usually less talkative, more likely to keep their feelings held in and more moody than their younger siblings.

With this in mind, how can parents bridge this communication and credibility gap with their older children? Amy Sherman, a therapist in private practice who has dealt extensively with troubled teen populations, makes these suggestions:

1. Make your family a democracy. That means opening the door to listening to and “hearing” your older children, even if you don’t like what they are saying. Kids need to know they can express themselves without being disciplined or made wrong. At the same time, she warns against being too permissive which inevitably leads to exploitation from teens who are always testing their boundaries.

2. Whenever possible, both Mom and Dad should talk to the teen together, discussing issues as honestly as is appropriate. All children are natural manipulators. Don’t let separation or divorce give them the opportunity to divide and conquer. Mom and Dad talking to the kids together, on the same page regarding family rules and values, is your best insurance for keeping older children as allies. Co-parenting after the divorce is your optimum goal. When that is not possible, keeping both parents in their parental roles goes a long way toward maintaining stability within a transforming family structure.

3. Children need and actually appreciate structure, even teens. It creates the security they crave, especially at challenging times. Try to maintain boundaries as close to the pre-divorce reality as possible. When both parents share basic guidelines and agreements within the family structure, regardless of which house the children are in, they will feel safer and more secure. Your children will also feel more cared about and loved which is vitally important as the family moves into unknown changes and transitions.

Remember, children of all ages mirror what they see. If your children are acting out, look within the family system for the cause. Get the help you need in making internal changes, and they are more likely to follow suit. At the same time, be patient, tolerant and understanding with yourself and everyone else within your family. This too shall pass!

* * *

Rosalind Sedacca’s acclaimed ebook, How Do I Tell the Kids about the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook Guide to Preparing Your Children — with Love! 

 

If you would like to chat to Jenny about anything at all, even your favourite wine click here to schedule a time https://calendly.com/jenny-smith-1/what-s-going-on-in-your-world

HOW TO STOP FEELING INVISIBLE

What does feeling invisible look like and in what situations might we find ourselves feeling invisible?

From a physical perspective there are both men and women who exude that air of natural confidence and charisma and is what instinctively draws people to them. Even these people will have times when they need to withdraw from the world to recharge, maybe this is what you could also refer to as needing to feel invisible, the difference here though is that for them it’s a considered choice which is very different from those people who feel that it something out of their control.

Feeling invisible can often it can be a sign that we no longer have anything in common with the people we used to spend time with, including family. If we have very different interests and other people are not interested in engaging with us, maybe that might make us feel invisible.

At some social occasions you may choose to be invisible because the conversation is heading into discussing something that you feel strongly about and it’s just not worth stirring the pot or you are simply bored to tears. We do outgrow some of our family and friends and I view this as a good thing. It means that we are expanding our view of the world and making choices based on what we think and feel and how we want to be treated.

In a divorce situation many women I work with or meet find the adjustment into life as a single woman very difficult and feel uncomfortable in social occasions where they may be the only single women and feel left out of the conversation. Or in relationships many women they feel that their needs are unheard or that ‘you never listen to me’. I could discuss the difference between men and women when it comes to ‘listening skills,’ however that is probably best left for another time.

How to stop feeling invisible raises many questions for me – let’s start with these two.

What am I doing or not doing to make myself feel invisible around people?
What is the meaning I have given to the fact that I feel invisible?

Feeling invisible in any situation is a choice, whether it’s in the workplace, with your family and friends or in social occasions and it’s never about other people. It is always about us. Often lying behind this will be a fear and lack of self-worth. Fear of not being heard, fear of not being liked, fear of speaking up and asking for what you want, fear of disagreeing with someone else’s opinion, fear of not being enough …………….. (fill in the gap!)

More questions for you to contemplate that will help bring more awareness into what might be going on for you. If this is a significant problem for you choose just one thing on the list and work towards turning that around before you move to the next one.

When you feel invisible or unseen or not heard by others do you remain silent?
Do you take on responsibility for attending to other peoples needs before your own?
Do you take on responsibility for other people’s lives in an attempt to ‘fix’ them?
Do you pretend that everything in your world is rosy when you are really feeling sad and lonely?
If you strongly disagree with someone do you speak up or do you prefer to avoid conflict?
How often do you end up feeling unappreciated, unseen or not valued?
How much of this is a reflection of how you treat yourself?

Having the awareness that you feel invisible is the first step. The next step is to take responsibility for your own feelings, for what you want and how you choose to be treated. It all has to start with you loving and caring about yourself more than you care about anyone else.   It’s a work in progress however the rewards that come along with every little step will encourage you to keep going.

Sometimes we need a little push to get started and to help you take that first step imagine in 10 years time what your life looks like, how you feel and what you are saying to yourself if you choose to do nothing.

Now imagine in 10 years time what your life looks like, how you feel and what you are saying to yourself when your whole world has changed because you had the courage to take that very first step.

To share your thoughts or your story please email me: jenny@divorcedwomensclub.com.au

With love and gratitude

Jenny xx

SIGN UP NOW TO RECEIVE MY COMPLIMENTARY EBOOK – 6 STEPS TO GETTING YOUR LIFE BACK ON TRACK
 

EXPERT AS SEEN ON SOUL.TV

Soul TV expert badge

View the Soul.TV episodes subscribe here: http://www.soultv.com.au/?ref=19

WHERE DOES FAITH COME FROM?

The words blind faith or trust are often referred to in the context of religion however noted atheist Richard Dawkins’ view of faith states that ‘blind trust is the absence of evidence,’ conversely W.H. Griffith-Thomas states that faith is ‘not blind, but intelligent’ and that it commences with the conviction of the mind based on adequate evidence.

I believe that it is both of these things in different contexts, yes the absence of evidence in many situations and also intelligent in those situations where you have past references that support and guide you through this new experience.

HOW DOES IT SERVE US?

Placing our faith or trust in another person or situation means that we must suspend our need to control an outcome to be able to move toward achieving something important to us. Whether that be a new career transition, relocating to a new town or country to live, navigation our way through the divorce process or deciding to take that next very big step toward finding love again. There are no guarantees that it will be a smooth or enjoyable ride but if be are firm in our belief that it is the right thing for us to do then faith and trust are required for us to continue.

WHAT STOPS US BELIEVING OR TRUSTING?

Life gives us plenty of experiences that will at times completely shatter our beliefs and trust not only in other people or situations but in ourselves as well.

Divorce is right up there with the most challenging for so many people.

People let us down, betray us and treat us in ways that we never imagined possible and these factors are highlighted in separation and divorce situations. We ourselves respond in ways that in some situations we don’t even recognise who we are and we violate our own values in our struggle to make sense of what is happening around us.

HOW DO YOU FIND FAITH IN TIMES OF STRUGGLE AND CHANGE?

This is where I might appear to be putting myself firmly in the ‘faith is confidence or trust in a person or thing or belief not based on facts or proof. In fact, I live much of my life in this space and I refer to it as ‘a knowing that all will be well.’ When I have been at rock bottom in different periods throughout my life the phrase ‘this too shall pass’ have become my mantra and never, ever failed to be true.

Keeping at the forefront of your mind what it is that you want, knowing what sort of person you want to be and how you want to respond to difficult situations, doing what you can to put one foot in front of the other to continue to move forward, accepting that there will be times when you will fall down and struggle to get back up again and always remember that we are stronger than we think we are, we are braver and bolder than we think we are and that within each and everyone of us we have what we need to help us through difficult times.

And finally but most importantly surround yourself with people who inspire you, people who see you for who you are and who will be there to support you through your times of struggle and change.

Share your comments or personal story I would love to hear from you.

The best way to reach me is via email: jenny@divorcedwomensclub.com.au

With love and gratitude

Jenny xx

SIGN UP NOW TO RECEIVE MY COMPLIMENTARY EBOOK – 6 STEPS TO GETTING YOUR LIFE BACK ON TRACK

EXPERT AS SEEN ON SOUL.TV

Soul TV expert badge

View the Soul.TV episodes subscribe here: http://www.soultv.com.au/?ref=19