kids—even trips to Dodgers games.
Over three years, he estimates, they’ve
spent $250,000 fighting each other.
MUST DO #5 Be an equal partner As
financial-planning goals go, defending against divorce shouldn’t be
high on the list unless you start a
marriage with wealth to protect.
Then you may need a prenuptial agreement and
trusts. For the rest of us,
the safeguard against an
ugly divorce may be simple
good habits of budgeting
and investing together,
which teach couples not
to fight over money.
“I’m a big proponent
of spouses’ jointly manag-
ing their affairs, especially
if one does most of the earn-
ing,” says Spencer Sherman.
“We all want to be heard.”
As a practical matter,
both spouses should es-
tablish credit, says Mark Brown, a
financial planner in Denver. “You’ll
want a credit card so you can rent a car
or reserve a hotel room,” he notes.
If divorce happens, the habit of
sharing money decisions will help.
Jeff Condon has written two books
on estate planning. That makes him a
respected expert in his own right. But
he admits that his personal life pro-
vides a cautionary tale: “Friends have
said, ‘Whatever we do, we don’t want
a divorce like the Condons’.’ ”
burden. Some backup plan for any
business is an essential part of estate
planning. Arlin’s service station was
a sliver away from bankruptcy, Vera
recalls. From his bed, Arlin briefed her
on everything from how to operate the
tow trucks to environmental regula-
tions she needed to comply with.
NEED ADVICE ON ADVICE?
There are many
Death of a Spouse
kinds of financial
advisers. Go to
money for our
rundown of the kinds
of help you can
expect from planners,
FOR MOST OF HER 34 years of married
life, Vera Jordan tended to her own
career as a staff coordinator at a medi-
cal center in Anniston, Alabama. After
retiring, she helped Arlin behind the
counter at the service station. “He was
a grease monkey by trade and loved it,”
she says. “I knew how to start the car,
and that was it.”
Then Arlin was told he had months
to live. As it turned out, he had three.
MUST DO #6 Prepare to act Running
a spouse’s business can be a heavy
Kathy Kristof is a syndicated personal-finance columnist. A new edition of
her book Investing 101 (Bloomberg)
came out last year.
For black-and-white reprints of this
article, call 866-888-3723.