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How to Protect Your Assets before a Divorce

David Thomson, 7 March 2019

You’ve found the love of your life and you intend to make it official. While it’s never pleasant thinking about a future where you’re not together, it is always a good idea to plan for the worst-case scenario. Before letting your emotions cloud your financial decisions, read this brief guide to protecting your assets, come what may.

A young couple, in love and positive about the future, will certainly not have divorce on their minds when they’re planning a wedding. Unfortunately, in many cases, “happily ever after” is not the way it pans out. The harsh reality is that 40% of marriages end in divorce before the 10-year anniversary.

One of the thorniest aspects of divorce is its financial implications – which can involve eye-watering legal costs in the case of a contested divorce. It’s therefore wise for any engaged couple to take some time out from the wedding planning to draw up an ante-nuptial contract (ANC), which must be done in consultation with a notary (a specialist lawyer).

Here’s What You Need to Know

  • An ANC stipulates who owns what, and which assets each spouse brings into the marriage.
  • In the event of divorce, this contract will help to resolve most financial issues.
  • It’s not expensive; and the benefits far outweigh the costs – giving you peace of mind that your assets are protected in the event of a divorce.
  • It’s essential that this ANC is completed and signed before the big day.

What Happens if You’re not Married?

If you and your partner plan to live together in a permanent relationship, but do not intend to marry, you can still protect your assets by asking an attorney to draw up a co-habitation agreement between you. This way, you’ll be able to determine who owns what and divide up your assets should your relationship come to an end.

If You Do get Divorced, carefully Consider Your Financial Situation

Divorce is an extremely traumatic event. However, try to keep a level head when it comes to all the financial considerations you need to make.

Should you ever find yourself in this position, David Thomson, Senior Legal Adviser at Sanlam Trust, recommends that you carefully consider the bigger picture when it comes to evaluating your financial situation and making decisions.

“If you get divorced and are legally entitled to a portion of your spouse’s retirement money, take care before you think of this money as a ‘windfall’ to spend. Instead, remember that it was initially intended to provide a comfortable retirement. It’s also likely that you will need to consider the costs of running two households, which can increase expenses in the short-term,” he advises.

Help Is at Hand

With so many important financial decisions to make, it’s worthwhile consulting with a professional financial adviser, who can help you to calculate your new living costs and plan carefully for your short-, medium- and long-term financial needs.

Whatever choices you make, it’s vital to base these on a holistic picture which takes into account your living expenses today and your retirement needs in future.>

Sanlam Life Insurance is a licensed financial service provider.
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