Navigating relationships

How to have tough conversations about money during challenging times

It’s safe to say that this global pandemic is stressing everyone out. COVID-19 has heightened our worries about staying healthy, working remotely and trying to navigate social distancing without being totally isolated. wonder how to have tough conversations about money and make decisions when each have their own unique viewpoint and emotional reactions to what’s going on in the world around them.

Put your emotions aside to focus on common goals

  • Try to leave your emotional baggage behind by concentrating on the financial activities you must tackle together.
  • Find points of agreement about common aspirations, goals and priorities.
  • Involve an objective third party to make sure you both have a say in how your financial and estate plans take shape. Meeting with your SVB Private advisor can help you both:
    • Review your investment accounts and make sure they still address your needs and reflect any changes. If your views on investment risk aren’t in sync, your advisor can help you work on a diversified portfolio that seeks to minimize risk in this volatile market.
    • Avoid acting out of fear and selling off your investments. As long as your immediate financial needs are being met, selling stocks could have a negative effect on your long-term financial outlook.
    • Prepare for the unexpected by checking the primary and contingent beneficiaries for your retirement accounts to make sure that they are up-to-date. By law, the primary beneficiary for workplace (or “qualified”) retirement accounts is your spouse, unless you have signed and filed a waiver.

      But you have more flexibility in naming contingent beneficiaries. “They can be children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, your trust or a favorite charity, depending on your goals for that money,” says Jeanne Barrett, Managing Director at SVB Private. For IRAs, SEP IRAs and annuities, you can name non-spousal beneficiaries as well. Just make sure you update them together.
    • Go through your estate plan and related documents to make sure they align with what you both want for your family and your own care – especially right now.

      If you already have an estate plan, wills and health care directives in place, Barrett recommends reviewing those documents. Besides the birth of a new child or grandchild, a death in the family, the purchase or sale of a home or other assets, changes in your income or an inheritance, a pandemic like this, is an important reason to re-examine your estate planning strategies she says.
    • Put a plan in place if your spouse should become infected or incapacitated. While it’s sobering to think about, it’s a critical planning element to agree on, says Barrett. If there are substantial assets at stake, you may want to consider establishing trusts to make sure those assets are handled by your spouse according to your wishes. “This can alleviate a key area that people worry about, but don’t take time to address,” she says.

      With a trust, you can specify what happens to the assets under a variety of circumstances and for multiple generations, Barrett says. “A trust can address the particular concerns that you may have as a couple.”

Keep talking

Almost 54% of couples in “great” marriages talk about money daily or weekly, compared to 29% of couples in “okay” marriages, according to a survey by Ramsey Solutions.1

Opening up the lines of communication and beginning to reconcile your money differences should make it easier to tackle other tough money situations as they arise.

We’re always here, especially in times like these, to help you get on the same financial page and reduce your money worries.

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