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Would you be able to cope on your own?

We give our top financial tips to help protect your family after you’re gone and to help cope on your own should the time come.

Important notes

This article isn’t personal advice. If you’re not sure whether an investment is right for you please seek advice. If you choose to invest the value of your investment will rise and fall, so you could get back less than you put in.

This article is more than 6 months old

It was correct at the time of publishing. Our views and any references to tax, investment and pension rules may have changed since then.

It’s not a nice thought to dwell on but having a financial contingency plan for if you have to manage on your own is essential.

Our survey* showed only 44% of people share responsibility of the day-to-day finances with their partner. That means if one half of the partnership wasn’t there any more, the other would likely be thrown in at the deep end having to pick up those responsibilities.

Most couples leave financial matters up to one or other of them. Typically, women are more likely to deal with day-to-day finances and men with long-term planning, but in some cases one person will hand everything over for their partner to take charge of.

Splitting the financial chores the same way you split the house work is ok to a degree. But it can get messy if both of you don’t update each other on the day-to-day and long-term aspects of your finances.

Leaving things up to a partner is a particular risk for women. They’re more likely to outlive their partner, and face entirely new and potentially tough financial questions at the worst possible time.

It’s not just the death of a partner either. Some relationships just don’t work out and even if there’s no animosity in the split, sorting out the finances can make an already difficult situation worse.

There are things you can do to prepare for if you end up by yourself. Following these tips could get you in a better position to handle things.

This article is not personal advice. If unsure if an investment or course of action is suitable for you, please ask for advice.

*HL survey, 1461 respondents April 2020

10 financial steps if things don’t work out

  1. Emergency budget – it’s incredibly common to get into debt during a divorce, so you could draw up an emergency budget to dip into during the first few difficult months.
  2. Freeze accounts – banks can freeze the assets in joint accounts, or make arrangements so that you both have to agree to any money being withdrawn.
  3. If you can try to agree things between each other – as soon as lawyers get involved, they’ll typically charge over £200 an hour, so the less they do, the less it will cost both of you.
  4. Consider mediation – if you end up going through the courts, it can be a long and expensive process, and there are no guarantees. So it might make sense to employ a professional mediator.
  5. Understand the value of what you have – couples often offset assets, but it’s important to appreciate the value of what you’re giving up and what it will cost to replace it.
  6. Don’t forget pensions – in many cases, it’s one of the largest assets built up during the marriage – often largely in the name of one person.
  7. Build up your short term savings – divorce is likely to have eroded your cash reserves. So you should think about building a lump sum in an easy to access savings account or cash ISA to cover emergencies.
  8. Review your protection – think about your new protection needs. If you’re paying child maintenance, you might need life insurance to cover payments in the event of your death.
  9. Redo your will – divorce nullifies any wills, so you should try to make a new one as quickly as possible.
  10. Revisit your overall position – it’s also a good idea to revisit your longer term savings and investments to check you’re still happy with them.

7 steps to protect your family after you’re gone

  1. Make a will – if you die without one your estate is divided according to the rules of intestacy. These rules could bear no relation to how you actually want to leave things.
  2. Consider dependents – make it clear how any dependents will be cared for. You could also think about leaving assets in trust for children under 18, so they can be managed until they’re old enough to inherit.
  3. Make a lasting power of attorney – this lets you nominate someone to make decisions for you if you are unable to make them yourself. There are two types – health and financial.
  4. Make an assets register – the best way to make sure your family knows about all your assets is to leave a detailed list.
  5. Simplify things – it’ll also make life easier if they don’t have to wade through several current accounts, old savings accounts and share certificates. Look at what you can consolidate.
  6. Get your paperwork together – make it easier for them to find all your paperwork and accounts by keeping them together.
  7. Consider day-to-day money – while your estate goes through probate, your accounts will be frozen, so your spouse needs a reasonable sum of cash in their own name. Having a joint account could help too.

Financial advice can help build your confidence

Whether it’s a plan A or plan B, an expert adviser can help you make sense of things. They can help you build a plan or arrange your finances so they’re easier to manage if you end up on your own.

The key is talking to each other. Talking to someone who can take an objective view can often help in making decisions.

Find out what financial advice from HL could do for you and your partner by booking a call with our advisory helpdesk.

Our advisory helpdesk can help you find out:

  • How advice could help you and your family
  • Which of our advisory services might suit you
  • Other support available from HL
  • How we charge for advice

If you decide advice is right for you, an adviser will be in touch in two working days.

Book a call

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    Important notes

    This article isn’t personal advice. If you’re not sure whether an investment is right for you please seek advice. If you choose to invest the value of your investment will rise and fall, so you could get back less than you put in.

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