Welcome to the Life Unlimited Podcast with Larry Heller. You deserve complete financial advice so you can confidently live your life your way for life. Now, let’s get into this week’s podcast episode.
Aric: Hello and welcome to Life Unlimited with Larry Heller from Heller Wealth Management. I’m Larry’s producer Aric, and I’m here to learn along with you, the audience. Larry, how are you?
Larry: I’m doing terrific today. Aric, how are you Getting some nice weather out by you?
Aric: Eh, it’s okay. No, actually, actually it’s been beautiful. Been going for morning bike rides and it’s been just wonderful temperature, not too muggy, I try to get it done early in the day, so, yeah, it’s been a lot of fun.
Larry: Love that. Yeah, love to hear that.
Aric: Well, you know, I gotta get moving. We’ve talked about this before. Yeah, we did down for way too long. So gotta start, start exercising. So, it’s nice to get out for that bike ride. Today you have a guest on the show and [00:01:00] you’re, you’re talking about gray divorce, correct?
Larry: Correct. Okay.
Aric: Well, well that’s interesting. I know that you’ve talked about this a little bit on, on podcasts before, but now you’ve got a guest to go back and forth with mm-hmm. And probably hone in on it a bit. So, you’ve allowed me to introduce him. And this is Andrew Hatherley, founder and CEO of Wiser Divorce Solutions, llc and Trends send retirement llc and he’s a seasoned professional specializing in divorce finance Planning and retirement transitions with over 25 years of experience. Andrew established Wiser Divorce Solutions in 2017 to empower individuals navigating divorce with financial confidence. Through the Gray Divorce Podcast and the Wiser Divorce Workshop, he offers comprehensive guidance on the legal, financial and emotional dimensions of divorce, which a lot of that, that last sentence there, Larry, you’ve covered before because divorce is emotional. You’ve had some other special guests on the show. You’ve covered this quite a bit, so I’m excited to hear the conversation you guys are having today.
Larry: Look, looking forward to it. We both play in the gr grade [00:02:00] divorce market, so it’s always great to have another professional on to to chat with.
Aric: All right, fantastic. I’m looking forward to the conversation and today’s guest Andrew thank you for joining us. Pleasure to have you on.
Andrew: Pleasure to be here, Larry.
Larry: So, uh, before we actually get into the divorce planning, you’re located where?
Andrew: I’m located in Las Vegas, Nevada, and it would be remiss of me not to brag a little bit on our Vegas Golden Knights who won the Stanley Cup Championship last night. Never in my imagination did I think when I moved to Las Vegas 24 years ago, I’m from Canada originally. Mm-hmm. I’d be living in a town with a Stanley Cup champion. So we’re pretty excited about it’s, although the Rangers remain my, what’s that?
Larry: And, and you’re getting a new baseball team, so, yeah, yeah, yeah. So you’ll have to get into baseball as well as hockey. I got my limits. Yeah, so I mean, we’ll talk today, but obviously some of the legal ramifications we’re in [00:03:00] New York. Some of the legal ramifications vary by, by state. So I just wanna let our listening audience know that before we get started. So, but why don’t we kind of start at the beginning, Andrew what, what led you to divorce financial planning?
Andrew: Well, it’s it’s not an unusual answer. It was my own divorce and being a financial advisor. For, I was about financial advisor for about 15 years when I went through my divorce at age 52 and I was woefully unprepared for the process. Which was kind of embarrassing because divorce is usually the largest financial transaction in your life and uh, of course we don’t prepare for it.
So I kinda let myself off the hook a little bit there. But going through the process and learning a lot of life lessons, it just struck me that as a financial advisor, that if I focused on this niche, I could [00:04:00] probably add a lot more value to the clients I was working with.
So, At that point, after I merged from the divorce, and kind of licked my wounds, I determined to earn the credential certified divorce financial analyst, and set up an outside business activity. Wiser divorce solutions that would focus on essentially the before and during divorce work, either working with couples as a neutral or working with one person and their attorney. As an advocate, and that would form a symbiotic relationship with retirement Solutions Group slash Transcend retirement, which is my RIA and to which over the last several years I’ve developed a special niche in gray divorce.
Of course, I was less gray before my divorce, after my divorce, but I realized that that was where I could probably add most value in the [00:05:00] financial advisory work that I was doing. So yes, it was going through my divorce seeing firsthand the mistakes that people make. And I’ve always been a person oriented towards education. So I like the idea of kind of teaching people from my experience and maybe how to avoid some of the negatives and to get divorced in a way that will set you up in a much more positive light, right?
Larry: So we do have that in common, and those that have listened to the podcast before know I went through a divorce in my late fifties, so I was a little bit more grayer or less haired than maybe you were when you went through it. So it definitely gives you a whole different perspective when you go through something like that, especially when you’re going through something like that later in life. So, just like you, some of the things that I learned or wish I knew through that, to be able to bring that to our clients going through a divorce later in life.
What, what do we [00:06:00] actually think Gray starts at? What we call older age, is there an age limit that we say gray divorce? People ask me that.
Andrew: Well, yeah, I think 50 is a pretty good cutoff. That’s generally accepted as the onset of middle age and, certainly I think we’ve all got a few gray hairs or the hairs we have left at 50. So it’s generally accepted that 50 is the age and, there’s been some academic research done and a lot of good academic research over the last 20 years or so, maybe in the last 10 years, particularly. About the phenomenon of gray divorce, cuz when I was going through it, I didn’t realize it was a societal phenomenon, but it’s really the only area of the, of the demographic where divorce rates are increasing.
And for instance, I mean, uh, 1990 in 10 people getting divorced, were over the age of [00:07:00] 50. And as of 2019 it was one in three people getting divorced over the age of 50. So, uh, I didn’t realize when I was going with it that there were so many other people as well, yourself included. Yep. Uh, going through it, and there’s a number of reasons for that, and perhaps we can get into that at some stage, but, um, that’s another thing, you know, with respect to focusing on this niche.
Which also led me to do the Gray Divorce Podcast or start the Gray Divorce Podcast last year is, I’m not I’m not talking to the wilderness. There’s a lot of people who are going through this.
Larry: Yeah. So let’s, let’s talk about some of the special concerns of someone getting divorced later in life rather than their twenties, thirties, and maybe even their forties.
Andrew: Right. Well, I think the key item here is age. And the lack of time to recover. We know that quite often divorce will result in a [00:08:00] diminution of our wealth by 50%. We’re splitting up a household into two separate households. Nobody comes out of divorce better financially than during the marriage.
So, The number one special feature for great divorce cases is they have less time to recover. Now, having said that, typically they may have more assets, more in their retirement account accounts, more pension benefits, accrued more equity in their homes. Debts paid off, hopefully not always the case.
So there may be more assets to split, but because of that time factor, it’s. It makes the situation so important that you get it right and that your head be in a good place when you’re going through divorce and you’d be educated into the various options for getting divorced. Yeah, so obviously age.
The principle thing, the other thing is spousal support. It’s less likely that it’s going to. [00:09:00] Continue as long if, particularly if a person is retired and not bringing in as much income. So it’s important to get the the splitting of the assets done correctly. The house is obviously a very important issue because it tends to be more equity in the house, but how is the person going to be paid off? These are considerations that come into play.
Larry: Yeah, I mean, I mean the house is always, whether, no matter what age the house. It has both the equity component and the financial component. Especially someone in the gray divorce side that might have been living there a long time, doesn’t wanna leave and start all over again, even though maybe their children are already out, out of the house. I find that that becomes a very interesting issue there. But like you said the biggest issue is really determining. People thinking about retirement is in the same essence of going through a divorce. And you know, [00:10:00] that’s where we come into place. So, so often is being able to show somebody. It’s either gonna work how long you have to work for. What would be your standard of living after this? Hopefully the, in an ideal situation, gray divorce. Both spouses are able to see the light at the end of the tunnel and know they’re going to be. Fine. So that’s the, the best case scenario.
So getting that peace of mind I find being able to show that sometimes even helps in negotiating a settlement.
Andrew: For sure, for sure. And you raised a couple of important points there, Larry. First of all, attorneys aren’t financial planners. They’re, when they’re working to craft a property settlement with their, with their clients, essentially it’s about splitting everything in two and then they’re out of there. They’re gone. Mm-hmm. When I work with attorneys as an [00:11:00] advocate or when I work with divorcing couples. As a, as a financial neutral, I always take a 20 year forward approach. Mm-hmm. When it comes to the settlement, does it put the parties on a reasonable financial foundation for their life going forward?
Now, part of that financial foundation may involve some financial support to further one’s education, to be able to earn more. To get to advanced designations even later in life. Fortunately, people are living much longer and they’re able to do that. And of course, living longer is contributing to gray divorce as well.
So that’s a component that. That I think I bring to the divorce process. And I should say at the outset, I am not an attorney and I do not offer legal advice. I do divorce workshops that touch that well, that folk that have a good concentration on legal matters. But I have a qualified family law attorney there to [00:12:00] present on that.
But the point you make about, um, about retirement, there’s all sorts of emotional and psychological components involved here as well. So, beyond just making sure or, or attempting to clarify that, people are have, are in a good financial foundation for the rest of their life. Obviously not better than they were, but they that they can rebuild is our whole approach to retirement itself. And I’m sure you’re aware of changing approaches to retirement. I know there’s a great book out there, Mitch Anthony’s done some good work with his book, “The New Retire Mentality”. And, you know, I’m seeing a lot, not only with my clients, but with myself because when you’re going through divorce and your net worths being cut in half or, or dropping severely mm-hmm.
Your retirement plans are likely to need rethinking. But also you’re thinking about retirement needs [00:13:00] rethinking. So I remember when I was in my early fifties, I always saw age 60 as kind of my hour of liberation that come 60. I would be, uh, I would be free from the shackles of work and off to the beach and the golf course. Well, I’m turning 60 in a couple of weeks and I have no desire to quit working. Because I’ve kind of transformed the work that I’m doing mm-hmm. In a way that it provides much more purpose in my life and meaning. And, you know, I’ve brought in, I’ve done things with my practice to to delegate it, uh, tasks as well.
But my thinking about retirement has changed. And if I can take more time off during the year, but be more productive during my work time. Then work is not a, a quote unquote four letter word for me anymore. And I think a lot of people are starting to feel that way about [00:14:00] retirement, irrespective of whether they’ve been divorced or not.
But getting divorced really brought the issue home to me and caused me to kind of rethink my approach to retirement. And I know the financial services industry would have us think of magic numbers to arrive at. No. I think if we’re enjoying what we’re doing, we’re probably gonna live happier, healthier, and better off financially, because we’re still bringing in an income.
Larry: Absolutely. I mean, there are tons of studies that say that, people’s minds even better the longer you work. And yeah, I mean, we’re both lucky that we work in a field that, that we love. I mean, I, I’ve actually just had that conversation with my, my, my child one, a couple of my children that I just finished year 30. I was a CPA beforehand and I don’t feel like I worked a day in my life. So this is part of my, what I do and being able to create a lifestyle around that is, so critical. So, you know, having those conversations with people going through divorce, not everyone is in that [00:15:00] position. Can they get in that position where they can figure out their purpose that you just mentioned or what makes them happy? And sometime there, you know, there is a silver lining on the o on the other side,
Andrew: So well, no, definitely. And when I do my workshops the one idea that I always want people to take with them is not a legal idea. It’s not a financial idea. It’s just a psychological idea that there is life after divorce and it’s going to involve parties pushing the reset button, but it’s also going to involve coming to a better understanding of who we are and I like to incorporate. A lot of positive psychology thinking into my financial advisory practice with my divorce clients and my clients who may be going through other transitions, thinking about retirement, dealing with widowhood.
You know, it helps to get a better understanding before we [00:16:00] can say, you know, follow our passion, follow our bliss. We really need to have a better understanding of who we are as people. So I always encourage. And I have these conversations with friends, colleagues. There are a number of tools of positive psychology, whether it’s a Big five personality test or the via strengths finder. To learn more about yourself and what you’re good at, and then try and channel what you’re good at. Try and do more of that in your work. Try and be a little bit more outward focused because a lot of depression is brought about. I’m not a psychologist, but I’ve, I’ve read enough and experienced enough to know that a lot of depression is brought about by being kind of into yourself so much. But if you can make your work more purposeful and put the best version of yourself out there in the world, ultimately you’re gonna feel better and you’re gonna be a more productive member of society.
Larry: Absolutely. So true. Let’s just switch gears for a second cuz you mentioned something a little, a little while [00:17:00] ago that I kind of wanna bring up and that’s, you know, when someone’s going through a divorce working with the attorney. And one of the things that I’ve come across that for whatever reason most attorneys either don’t think about bringing a CDFA in or a financial advisor in. During the process or are reluctant to they may think that some of their services are being taken away. The ones that really get it and understand for the, for their clients that there are, are, there’s so much benefit for bringing that bring somebody in with those credentials. Do you come across that a lot?
Andrew: Well, certainly I, I do come across that and life’s too short in my estimation, to try to turn, to, to turn 30, 40 years of an attorney’s habits around. I think you can plant [00:18:00] a seed and if the seed doesn’t sprout, there are plenty, there’s fertile ground everywhere else or or another places. I just came up with that metaphor. So there are attorneys who are more settlement minded and more open-minded. Those are the people I wanna work with. Attorneys who are more likely to work with mediation. I don’t wanna work with attorneys who are part of what I call the divorce industrial complex who need to string a, a case along for nine months or maybe not need, but are okay seeing a case string along for nine months, when really it could have been settled in a couple of months. The shark type attorney. Mm-hmm. It’s just I don’t see the point of of trying to work with people like that. Life’s too short. You wanna work with people who do get it. And so there are quite a few attorneys out there practicing mediation, [00:19:00] practicing collaborative divorce. I’m now a member of what’s called the Amicable Divorce Network, and that has a number of attorneys committed to a more amicable type of divorce.
So these type of people are interested in some of the concepts that, uh, that we’ve been discussing. The idea of building a life after divorce and having a, and helping people, not just being there to split the assets in two, but mm-hmm. Concerned for their clients that they’re on a solid foundation after divorce. And they’re also the types of attorneys who don’t have a God complex, who know they don’t know everything about everything. And, you know, I’ve seen enough mistakes done by attorneys in the financial aspects of divorce to know that they need us. Some attorneys are obviously more savvier than others when it comes to, uh, financial matters, but, uh, they can bring us in. Mm-hmm. And I’ve got a couple of relationships with attorneys. [00:20:00] And they’ll essentially delegate the financial work to me. I’ll put together the balance sheets and the budgets, which are useful for their analysis and discussions with the, uh, the counterparty. And I’ll do it at half the hourly rate that they will, and so they can actually pitch me to their clients. As I wanna bring Andrew in to help with the financials. I’m not an expert in that, and he does it at half the rate. So essentially you’re getting two for less than the price of one. So if you can find a good attorney and yeah, they’re not they’re not so ready readily pluckable from trees, but there are people out there. To whom that, uh, that makes a lot of sense. And they want, right.
So I was just, I was actually just gonna go there and saying, you know, what do you offer for somebody that’s going through this divorce? And is it mostly representing one of the parties or a neutral. So you’re, you’re actually just doing the [00:21:00] balance sheet or the financial work. What about some of the forensic work? I’m guessing you outsourced that. Increasingly, yes. You know, life is short and I don’t, I don’t wanna be mired in spreadsheets. So, I would I would, I would outsource that.
Larry: Right. So the audience listed what I mean by forensic. If somebody owns a business and we need to get a value of the business and bringing somebody in who’s an expert in that particular area, but kind of being the quarterback and just getting the whole balance sheet and all that. So is it mostly as it. Representing one side or on the, as a neutral party?
Andrew: You know, it’s a mixture. Probably when I started out there was a little bit more neutral work and then it became more advocacy work, and now it seems to be tilting a little bit back to, uh, to neutral work. And when I say neutral work, essentially what happens is a husband or a wife will reach out to me after having found me on the internet or been referred to me and [00:22:00] they’ll say, you know, my husband and I Don’t have a lot in assets. We don’t wanna spend a lot on attorneys. We are still talking and we, you know, we want to be talking for the sake of our children, you know, six months, six years down the road. Can you help us? And so I’ll speak to the other party and make sure they understand what, what neutral mediation is all about and how we need to be working in a spirit of.
Openness and flexibility and respect and cooperation. And if I determine that the couple are that way disposed, then I’ll work with them to go over the financials and yes, put a balance sheet together, put individual income statements, budgets together for them, and we’ll come to what I call a summary agreement and that point.
I’ll bring in, or I’ll refer them to any number of attorneys that I work with who are more than qualified to drop the paperwork and every, make sure everything is done in the proper legal [00:23:00] way. Now, the advocacy cases, on the other hand, those tend to be cases that won’t for which mediation is not suited.
And so, an attorney might call me and say, Hey, I’ve got this. High net worth case and they’ve got lots of accounts and they might want me to kind of dig into it a little bit. And sometimes that’s, uh, very satisfying because I can go into the accounts and see, well, $20,000 was moved here two years ago to account 4, 5 34. And they’ll say, well, I didn’t know about account 4 5 34. Well, Ask the other attorney about it because we’ve got assets going here that potentially our client is entitled to. So that’s kind of forensic, or investigatory. I do find that quite enjoyable. But the business valuation stuff I don’t do, and I don’t do a lot of separate property, uh, work on 401ks either.
Larry: So what, what, just one final question [00:24:00] is, so why don’t you give away some of the key pieces of advice you would give someone going or dealing with a divorce, maybe even someone dealing with a divorce, uh, later in life?
Andrew: I think the most important thing by far is to get educated about the process as soon as possible. This was my fatal flaw in my divorce and. We ended up going through nine months of nine months of the divorce with, attorneys on either side, and it was very expensive and it was emotionally draining. But part of that was because we weren’t aware of alternative dispute resolution processes like mediation, collaborative, and amicable divorce.
So there’s a lot of education out there, there are various workshops in many cities. Um, And increasingly more CDFA’s who are giving workshops attorneys. So get educated. Get educated, [00:25:00] because this can work to your benefit psychologically as well. Because I remember being told when I was going through my divorce, well, you’re gonna have to pay spousal support for the rest of your life. And I was only 52. And for a moment there are, I didn’t know, am I? Mm-hmm. No, that wasn’t gonna happen. But it certainly caused me a lot of anxiety. Getting educated will, will alleviate a lot of that anxiety. And you know, as I said earlier, this is the likely the largest financial transaction in our lives. And it’s done at a time when emotions are afraid and we’re not we’re not at our best. In fact, there’s a saying in the legal world that the criminal justice system sees bad people on their best behavior, and we’ve all seen. Gangsters going into court with tattoos on their face, but they’ve got a suit and tie on, and there’s a yes or a no sir, to the judge.
But the divorce process sees good, normal people who quote unquote typically on their bad, on [00:26:00] bad behavior or their worst behavior. And I, I know, I, I think a lot of people who’ve gone through divorce would look back on it and think, that wasn’t my that wasn’t my finest hour. So getting educated. Means, you know, going online, going to workshops, bring in other professionals, it’s gonna save you a lot of money.
If there’s a house issue, bring in a certified divorce lending practitioner because they’re not gonna get paid. There’s no fees to pay them, during the process. They can’t get paid during the process. So if they ultimately do some refinancing work for your mortgage work. They would, but they’re not gonna be an extra cost, but they can be a great deal Extra value. Mm-hmm. Get a therapist. A therapist might be a hundred twenty five hundred fifty bucks an hour depending where you are. But you go to an attorney’s office, they’ve all got these round tables with boxes of tissues on them. Don’t be paying an attorney 400 bucks an hour to cry in their office.
Go to a professional therapist.[00:27:00] Divorce financial advisors. Such as ourselves, who’ve been through the process, even if it’s only for a half hour consultation and I’ll, I’ll do a free half hour consultation for people. That’s kind of my pro bono giving back. Just to help people get in the, get on the right track or find the right professionals to work with.
But preparation, collect all your financial documents if you wanna keep costs down. Don’t go into an attorney’s office with three shoe boxes. Put your own spreadsheets together, or with the help of a divorce financial analyst who charges typically half or a third of what a, an attorney, help have them help, help you put your, uh, put your financials together. You’re saving the, you’re saving time and money with the attorney, and you’re also making their life a lot easier. If an attorney’s involved, which, for which they’ll be, uh, they’ll be grateful and they’ll be better able to focus on, uh, on the relevant matters of your of your case.
Larry: Right. A lot of great information [00:28:00] for somebody going through a divorce or a gray divorce. So, uh, if anyone wants to reach out, out to you, Andrew, what can they contact you?
Andrew: Sure. The best way to reach me, Larry, is through my two websites. I would say if you are in the before or during divorce stage, You can find me at wiser divorce solutions.com or andrew wiser divorce solutions.com.
If you are emerging from divorce and you kind of want to get your ducks in a row and you don’t, maybe you’re not particularly savvy with respect to investments or you need help with all the logistical issues. After divorce, things like the quadros where you know you’re dividing 401ks or retirement plans and doing work on trust or updating your beneficiary. All that post-divorce financial planning work, that’s transcend retirement.net. Www transcend retirement.net is my kinda RIA financial advising. Uh, [00:29:00] business. So when all my contact information is on those two pages, I also encourage people to listen to the Gray Divorce Podcast. And that’s gray with an a.
Larry: Great, thank you so much for joining us today. This is this was terrific.
Andrew: Thank you very much, Larry. I, I very much appreciate having the opportunity to speak with you,
Aric: Andrew and Larry. This has been fantastic. Larry. This is definitely something you’ve covered a lot before and you’ve helped so many families through situations like this. Let’s give ’em your contact information so they can reach out to you if they have questions of you.
Larry: Yeah, sure. So you can reach out. You can go, actually go to our website heller wealth management.com, and you can schedule a free 20 minute call with myself and one of the other financial planners here, or feel free to call the office at (631) 248-3600.
Aric: Perfect. Andrew, again, thank you so much, Larry. Thank you for hosting this show and our last thank you, goes to the listening. Audience, thank you so much for tuning in and listening to the Life Unlimited podcast with Larry Heller. If you have not subscribed to the podcast yet, please [00:30:00] click the subscribe now button below. This way when Larry comes out with a new podcast, it’ll show up directly on your listening device, and if you’re watching this on YouTube, we’d appreciate a like and a follow there as well. We humbly ask you to share this podcast rate it and leave a review. This actually does help others find the show. Again, thank you so much for listening today. For everyone at Heller Wealth Management, this is Aric Johnson reminding you to live your best day every day, and we’ll see you next time.