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Divorce focus: Older women and personal financial management

The financial services sector is making a big mistake when it fails to target single women in their 50s and 60s and instead markets investment and saving services almost exclusively to couples, says an estate-planning instructor.

The reason why: About 90 percent of all women in Florida and elsewhere throughout the United States-- either through the death of their husbands or divorce -- eventually become solely responsible for managing assets.

According to a number of surveys and polled professionals, many of them are simply not well prepared to do that.

Divorce coach Lee Block says she routinely sees women "who don't know how to write a check, or get their own credit cards, or start a bank account."

That inability obviously doesn't apply to many millions of women, but it does describe legions of women who, for various reasons, did not closely attend to money matters during marriage. Many older women, especially, have customarily deferred to and continue to defer to their husbands when it comes to financial matters. That often leaves them in the dark following a separation or divorce.

What do money experts advise? First, divorcing women who are concerned about their financial situation and personal money-managing acumen should candidly speak with female friends and acquaintances to see who does manage money. For most newly divorced women without much experience doing so, learning to do things such as paying bills, opening a savings account, securing relevant insurance, obtaining a credit card, improving credit scores and so forth turns out to be not such a big deal.

And learning to manage money and budget successfully is empowering.

Divorced women with finance-related questions and concerns are advised to contact an experienced family law attorney and, perhaps, an accountant or other financial planner.

Source: Reuters, "Divorce stress meets recession mess, and women struggle" Oct. 14, 2011

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