I met Mike for a cup of coffee and even though Divorced gal is very (dare I say) cute and confident, I must confess, that I was pretty nervous about interviewing him. I am certain however, that Mike didn’t notice my anxiety, because I was fully caffeinated by the time that he arrived.
Why was Divorced Gal so nervous? Was it because Mike is very good looking? Well I was meeting him for the first time so I had no clue what he would look like. It turns out, that handsome Mike has lovely green eyes and a huge grin that brightens his whole face, but that was not why I had to glug down my cappuccino in one anxious sip before I could face him.
The reason that DG was shit scared is because Mike is a Financial Planner (CFP), busy with his Masters degree, and because I was meeting with him to discuss financial stuff. While I was married, I fell into the trap (like many women of my generation have) of letting my Ex sort all things financial. I focused on running our home and looking after our children and while we were married, this worked well for us.
When we parted, I suddenly found that I was completely ignorant about how several very important things work. I completely own the reality that I co created, and our separation woke me up in a very positive way, to clearly see that ignorance is NOT bliss! I was not only living in a bubble, where I thought that I would never ever get divorced, but because of the traditional roles that we played in our home, it was also simply easier not to worry about things like wills and policies (and leave that up to my ex).
I was competent at budgeting and very cautious with money, but I had too many holes in my understanding. I am finally, proudly (still) learning how to get my head around claiming my independence.
Despite my anxiety, 39 year old Mike (who has been in his industry for fifteen years) immediately put me at ease. He has a lovely, reassuring air about him and I felt very relieved that he was the one who was going to explain the financial questions that I had. Mike is happily married and clearly besotted with his wife and two children. He recently lost his
dad, who was ill, and he said that this has been really hard because apart from his wife, his father was his best friend. What I noticed after only a few minutes with Mike was that he is completely in tune with the issues that divorced gals face and has a very clear way of explaining really critical stuff. By the end of my time with Mike, I felt empowered and comforted by his empathetic approach.
As you may know, Divorced gal is passionate about coffee and chocolate – well thanks to Mike, I am now almost as passionate as he is (and he really is!!) about…..WILLS!
Mike believes in ‘fighting for the underdog’ (which can often be the divorcing gal)! So much so, that he draws wills up for people at no cost! So before you even read why having a will is one of the most important things that you will do on your Divorce, put Mikes number into your phone and after you finish this, I urge you to set up an appointment with him! Wills can usually cost between one and three thousand rand to draw up!
I can be very easily distracted if I feel out of my depths, but when Mike explained WILLS to me, I was completely focused and even (I think) asking some really good questions! I now know (thanks to Mike), that WHEN you get divorced, the first thing you need to draw up (or change, if you already have one), is your will!!!
If you were to die, who would you want to look after your children? Well, your will enables you to appoint guardians for this role.
A Testamentary trust needs to be created for minors on your death and your assets then move into this trust. Your will, if wisely drawn up, could contain the names of three trustees to administrate your assets and to look after the best interests of your children. One of the trustees would potentially be a CFP (like Mike) and the other two could be members of your family that you trust. If you were to pass away with no will, all your assets would go into the Guardians fund which is administered by the Government. YOU do NOT want THIS to HAPPEN!
Mike had a relative who died intestate (with no will) and so their estate took a whole five and a half years to wind up! This meant that no relative could get any of their inheritance and sadly Mike saw first hand that this can have dire consequences for a family member that really needs the funds.
Divorced Gal also learned that an insurance policy supersedes a will! This means that when you get divorced, if you have any insurance policies in place, you need to check who the beneficiary is. Perhaps it is your ex and you would prefer the beneficiaries to now be your children? The name on your policy therefore needs to be changed to protect your wishes. If you are unsure about what policies you may have, Mike is able (with an authority letter from you) to provide you with this information and also to assist you with changing the beneficiary.
You probably know (I didn’t when I began the divorce process) that you have a claim to your ex’s Retirement Annuity (taken out in their personal capacity) as well as their Pension Fund (from their employer).
Many lawyers use terms like ‘Pension fund’, ‘fund value’ and ‘proceeds of the policy’ in the divorce agreement and Mike says that in order to protect your claim, not only should those words be avoided, but it is in your best interests, if possible to have a CFP read over your divorce settlement to check that the words Pensionable interest appear!!! Those two words are key to the court accepting your claim! Pensionable interest!!!!!
Once you are divorced and know where you stand financially on a monthly basis, it is time to think about you, your children and their future. When I brought this up and told Mike that I thought Life cover was probably unaffordable, he explained that it can cost as little as three to four hundred rand a month and that your policy can also include cover for dread disease. Although you may never have thought of having a policy like this when you were married, insurance of this nature, can now give you some peace of mind. And peace of mind is like chocolate…satisfying and essential!!
It can be really daunting and overwhelming managing your finances in your new life and DG has realized how wise and empowering it is to seek some professional help from a CFP who can help you make the best decisions about what to do and answer your questions.
What I thought about after I left my meeting with Mike was not only that I should have ordered more coffee ; ) but also about one of my favorite quotes….
‘Smile and let everyone know that today, you’re a lot stronger than you were yesterday’
Mike Becker CFP :
083 276 8588
011 481 1000