Financial Planning
Summary in Divorce

Financial planning is an umbrella term. Normally, it includes the preparation of wills and trusts necessary to organize the finances of a couple and the care of their minor children in the event of their deaths.

Financial planning can include the signing of prenuptial and postnuptial agreements by which two spouses agree to waive claims they may legitimately make against the marital estate in the event of a divorce.

Young couples who are just starting their married lives together very often have limited finances, so they merely make wills that are the mirror images of one another.

Later in married life, however, financial planning normally includes 1) preparation for retirement, by which a married couple prepare for their so-called "golden years"; 2) estate planning, by which the husband makes certain that his widow will be adequately cared for after his demise.

Most couples review the financial planning periodically to make sure that it reflects their current financial situation. In doing financial planning, many couples avail themselves of a financial planner, who is person trained to guide the parties in making intelligent decisions. Generally, the more assets a couple have, the more complicated their financial plans. Wealthy couples often face complicated tax decisions (and can avail themselves of tax shelters). For wealthy couples, a large measure of financial planning may center on income tax avoidance.

Divorce very often makes people poorer, and couples who had been prosperous before divorce often find themselves in reduced straits after it. In this case, financial planning may be more an inventory of the damage done by the marital failure.

Basically, all financial planning (before a divorce, after a divorce, in anticipation of the "golden years," in anticipation of death) requires the same information. Some people maintain what one writer calls a "Doomsday Book" -- a neat and orderly accounting of the all the assets he and his wife have individually and jointly. On the asset side, this includes everything they own; on the liability side, it means everything they owe.

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