Whether single from a broken relationship or the death of a partner, getting your finances in order can be daunting especially when you are used to having your other half manage your assets.

This article covers a couple of considerations to support you when there’s a breakdown in your marriage or de facto relationship.

Professional advice

Seeking help from experts can be useful during this difficult period. A family lawyer, financial adviser and accountant can work together to assist with the legal and financial implications of the breakup while a counsellor can provide emotional support.

Depending on the type of service you’re looking for, our financial advisers can provide limited advice at no additional cost. Find out how our financial advisers can assist you

Your privacy

Consider changing passwords on computers, mobiles, internet and phone banking, as well as phone and internet plans. This is especially important if you have shared passwords with your former partner.

Savings and debt

Speak to your financial institution to discuss the best course of action to protect any money that you are entitled to and to minimise your exposure to further debt. The following are a few examples of matters that you may like to cover:

  • Joint savings and loan accounts.
  • What it means for your credit score if you or your partner is late on their repayments for a joint loan.
  • Applying for your own bank account and/or credit card (if you do not already have these).
  • Downloading records of all individual and joint accounts that both you and your partner have access to, including current balances and transaction information for the past seven years.
  • Changing card PINs and online banking passwords.
  • Setting credit card and/or withdrawal limits.

Using a tool like our Budget Calculator can assist with assessing your cash flow so you can save up for your new future.

Part of your budgeting process may also include having emergency savings to assist with unexpected expenses such as a large medical bill or a major car repair.

If you find yourself in financial hardship, consider seeking free financial counselling by contacting the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007 or visiting ndh.org.au.

Splitting super

Another aspect of your finances to consider is super.

Generally, super is regarded as property in a relationship breakdown, which means that you and your ex-partner can split your or their super via a written agreement or court order. However, neither party will be able to access those funds unless they satisfy a condition of release, typically when they have reached their preservation age and have retired.

If either of you can access your or their super today because a condition of release has been met, you or your partner may organise a mutual agreement or court order to facilitate the splitting of the funds. You will be able to access the split amount the same way that you access the rest of your super.

Beneficiaries

Your super does not automatically form part of your estate unless you make a binding nomination that specifies your legal personal representative as your beneficiary. Find out what your options and the rules are around whom you can nominate as a beneficiary for your super account and the tax implications for your beneficiary.

With a binding nomination, the trustee must pay your death benefits as you have nominated. With a non-binding nomination, your fund has full discretion to distribute the funds but will generally take your nominated beneficiary into account.

Additionally if you hold life insurance through your super, you may want to ensure that the money goes to people who matter to you.

You can check whom you have nominated as your beneficiary by logging in to your Member Portal account. If you wish to update your nominated beneficiary, simply complete the Nomination of Beneficiaries form.

Power of attorney

If you have a Power of Attorney or Enduring Power of Attorney, you may like to ensure that the person of your choosing can act on your behalf in the event you are not able to make your own decisions.

Insurance cover

Income protection, life and total and permanent disability cover are typical insurances that you may have within your super. Read more about these insurances.
It’s important to ensure that the insurance you have through your super will cover your needs and those of your dependants if the unexpected should happen. Given that the premiums are deducted from your super balance, it’s also wise to check that you are paying for cover that is adequate and relevant.

Unsure of how much cover you or your family may require? Use our Insurance Calculator to get an estimate.

If you have insurance with your super, you can check your existing level of cover by logging in to your Member Portal account.

Planning your future

The next stage of your life following a separation and divorce can be a good time to consider a couple of other financial matters.

Multiple super accounts

Given that fees are deducted from your super balance to maintain your account, you may like to check whether you have multiple accounts and if it would be beneficial for you to consolidate them.

When deciding to exit a super fund, be sure to inform your employer so that they pay future contributions to the correct account. You should check whether you will lose your insurance cover or other benefits, as well as potential costs involved when making a decision to leave a fund.

Super contributions

Saving up for your retirement may be the last thing on your mind during a separation. However, due to the power of compounding, small contributions that you make to your super today can make a difference to your income in your golden years.

Making voluntary super contributions is an important consideration if you have taken a career break to raise children or to care for loved ones. This is because contributions from your employer would have ceased during the time you were away from work, so you may want to consider topping up your super.

Another thing to remember is that super can be a tax-effective vehicle to save for your future. The earnings on your super investments are taxed at a maximum of 15%, which is typically lower than your marginal tax rate.

Additionally, although your salary sacrifice contributions attract a 15% tax, you could potentially be better off overall in terms of the net amount of taxes you pay.

Note that if you make a post-tax contribution to your super, the 15% contributions tax won’t be applied.

Read about the different types of contributions you can make to boost your super balance.

Government assistance

There are a range of government support available to those who meet the eligibility criteria. These include income support while you look for work, subsidies to upskill and payments for separated parents providing financial support to children.

Use the Centrelink Payment and Service Finder to check the payments and services you may be eligible for.

If you have been receiving income support payments while you were still in a relationship, you will need to update Services Australia of your current situation.

Get support

Financial abuse can happen when a partner controls or prevents your access to money, stops you from getting a job or forces you to sign up for loans you don’t want.

Also known as economic abuse, financial abuse is a form of domestic and family violence.

If you’ve experienced financial abuse, contact the National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service at 1800 737 732 (1800 RESPECT) or visit 1800respect.org.au or Relationships Australia at 1300 364 277 to get support and advice.

If you need help with sorting your finances during this difficult period, our financial advisers can assist. Let us know your details one of our financial advisers will be in touch.

Any advice contained on this webpage is of a general nature only, and does not take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. Prior to acting on any information on this webpage, you need to take into account your own financial circumstances, consider the Product Disclosure Statement for any product you are considering, and seek independent financial advice if you are unsure of what action to take. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance.

 

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