Managing Joint Finances During A Pandemic

With the courts hearing only “one or two issue conferences” limited to 45 minutes in certain jurisdictions, litigated matters have slowed.  Even in cases that are not being litigated the suspension of in-person meetings with clients and with other counsel have slowed the exchange of disclosure and the resolution of financial matters.  This can be particularly stressful in these times with the added pressure of lay-offs, reduced hours and/or wages and general job and financial uncertainty.  I’ve assembled some issues below to be aware of during these times:

  1. If you don’t have a will, consider getting one now. During this time, wills may be commissioned electronically.
  2. Consider your beneficiary designations and if they need to be changed.  Life insurance and investments may have your former spouse listed as a beneficiary.
  3. Do you own your home as joint tenants with a right of survivorship?  Consider severing the tenancy.
  4. Are you the lower income earning spouse? Are you a stay-at-home parent?  Are you experiencing financial abuse?  Seek out resources to assist.
  5. Do you continue to hold debt together (mortgage, line of credit, credit cards)? Ensure that both parties’ consent is required to increase borrowable funds or limits.
  6. Seek confirmation from the other party that they will not contract in your name for credit cards, mortgages or lines of credit.
  7. Consider if it’s appropriate to lower the limit for credit cards or lines of credit.
  8. Explore if deferred payments are possible and needed on mortgages and other debts for which banking institutions are offering deferred payment.

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