Sunday, April 20, 2008

Adryenn Ashley - Lady Launcher

Here is a little video that Corrine Phipps made of me speaking to her Ladies Who Launch group in the South Bay! :)

Sunday, March 09, 2008

The Divorce Factor in Do-It-Yourself Wills

H&R Block recently launched a new product, WillPower, a software program that helps people draw up their own estate plans, trusts, and wills. You can learn more about it in this article in the Cape Cod Times – or you may have read it your local newspaper by now.

While I’m all for getting your ducks in a row, estate planning for people who have been married before is complicated at best. Here’s a piece of the article that illustrates my point:

"Those little kits could work if you have the training, education and expertise to use them properly," said Lee Davis, a Johnson City, Tenn., lawyer and president of the National Association of Estate Planners & Councils.

"However, there also is lot of potential for someone insufficiently versed in legal matters to create major problems for heirs, for example by leaving out something important or using incorrect or ambiguous language," Davis said.

"Hiring a lawyer also becomes an increasingly better idea if your estate becomes bigger or more complicated, or if your or your heirs' circumstances are changed by death, divorce, remarriage or some similar event," Davis said.

"Kits just don't cover all those conditions," he said.

So before you sign up for the do-it-yourself kit, keep in mind a few important factors:

 The current wife may not have access to her husband’s estate if alimony, child support, or family support obligations to the “first family” have not been satisfied.

 The current wife may not have access to her husband’s retirement accounts, if the ex-wife is listed as the beneficiary.

 Children from the second marriage may not have access to their father’s estate, if obligations to the “first children” have not been met.

So if you or your spouse has been married before, you’re better off consulting with an attorney who will make sure all of the factors are considered. Which doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pick up WillPower or a comparable product. The software can help you organize your papers and make important choices about where your estate, which will help you save big on your legal fees.

Do you have all of your important legal and financial documents in one, safe place? If not, don’t fret. Most people don’t have every key document at their fingertips. February is a great time to gather these documents in preparation for tax season, and of course, life’s little surprises.

A complete document checklist is available in my book, Every Single Girls’ Guide to Her Future Husband’s Last Divorce, and in the coming weeks I’ll be providing you with tons of helpful advice about how to organize (and find) the documents on the list.

So stay tuned!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Before You File: Recapture Rule Basics

Recapture. It sounds like a Lifetime Movie of the Week, in which the same villain kidnaps the heroine – twice. Or perhaps it’s a romance where an estranged couple ends up stranded in a mountain cabin where they “recapture” the spark that brought them together.

Unfortunately, where the IRS is concerned, it’s less entertaining. The recapture rule applies to many types of tax, but in this instance, I want to bring your attention to how it affects alimony payment deductions.

If you or your husband pays alimony to a former spouse, deducting those payments feels like a year-end bonus after twelve months of cutting checks to the ex. The alimony deduction can add up to a hefty sum, and keep that tax payment down to a manageable amount.

BUT, the IRS has rules about alimony payments, and if you don’t follow them to the letter, you could end up having to pay back the entire deduction – with penalties and interest. I cover this at length in my book, and here’s a link to the IRS page on alimony.

A quick snapshot of some of the issues pertaining to the alimony recapture rule:

 Alimony payments must be made in cash (including check or money order).

 Alimony payments must not include child support or a child-related expense. So, if you or your spouse pays family support (a combination of alimony and child support) you could have a problem.

 If alimony payments decrease or terminate in the first three years of the settlement, the payments could be subject to recapture.

It’s a good idea to read the alimony information at, because it also shows how some of your other financial obligations to the ex may be considered alimony and therefore would entitle you to additional deductions. Life insurance premiums and mortgage payments on a jointly owned property, for example.

If you or your spouse ay alimony, take five minutes to read the section in my book about the recapture rule, consult with a tax attorney or CPA, or read the fine print on the IRS website. Because if your sizeable alimony deduction is recapture, you could end up a subject of a Lifetime Movie, a fixer-upper tale that goes something like this: newlyweds go bankrupt and have to start over from scratch. Yup. A real feel-good flick.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

It’s Not Over Until the Lap Dance Begins

As I mention in my book, Every Single Girl’s Guide to Her Future Husband’s Last Divorce, when my husband officially finished paying child support, I was so excited I gave him a lap dance and a bottle of champagne.

While I certainly don’t begrudge my stepchildren from receiving financial support from their father, it was a huge component of our budget that I was glad to be done with.

If your guy has kids from his previous relationship(s), child support is probably a hot issue in your house as well. But if your guy told you he doesn’t have to pay child support anymore, I’m here to tell you that it’s not over until it’s over.

How did I know my hubby signed his last support check? Because he finally got his ex to sign a Satisfaction of Judgment. This document carves in stone that he has satisfied his child support obligation, and is no longer required to make payments. Done. Over. Finished. And recorded in the county recorders office for all eternity.

Unless you have a Satisfaction of Judgment from Child Support Service or your ex in your hot little hands, you can’t be sure that your guy won’t have to pay out more…and more….and possibly even more child support, even 20 years later. In fact, even if his ex wife states emphatically that he has made all of his payments, the state can still come after him for more money, due to computer errors or other factors.

If you’ve stood by your guy for years while he dutifully sent his monthly child support check in, you too may be inspired to give him a special treat when it’s all over. But table that celebration until he gets that Satisfaction of Judgment signed and recorded. Once he has it, let the lap dance begin!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Wealthy Girl Summit

For all of you high net worth women (and wannabes), the Wealthy Girl Summit is just two weeks away! I am honored to be a featured speaker at this groundbreaking event, a Virtual Wealth Building Conference for women of all ages and means.

At the conference, which takes places January 24-27, I’ll be joining other experts such as Christine Comaford Lynch, a world-class entrepreneur and author of “Rules for Renegades.”

I’m thrilled to report that bestselling author Marci Shimoff is also on the bill. Marci is known throughout the world for her transformational seminars, and you may remember her from the movie, “The Secret.” Her latest book – “Happy for No Reason” - is a must-read for anyone looking to create wealth and happiness from the inside out.

The Wealthy Girl Summit is a fantastic opportunity to learn key strategies for building and maintaining wealth. The first three seminars are live, and offer you an opportunity to participate by asking questions. Day Four is a “Million Dollar Entrepreneur” Video Webinar that you don’t want to miss, a roundtable discussion featuring the Wealthy Girl experts discussing the keys to wealth through entrepreneurship.

I’m all about virtual anything, so I’m extra excited to be part of this event. Women from all over the country can participate at the same time, without leaving the comfort of your own home or office. What could be better than that? (Okay, maybe eating chocolate or getting a pedicure while you attend the virtual seminar. But that is SO doable!)

See you there!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Before You File

My post today is for all of you eager beavers who get their taxes filed as soon as that W-2 lands in their lap. Marrying a divorced man doesn’t just mean filing jointly, it also means your own net worth may be affected by his support obligations.

If your hubby owes back child support, there’s a good chance that your tax refund will be applied to that balance. Not only that, you may never get it back. Even if your guy really doesn’t owe any back child support, and you can prove it, if the “computer” thinks he does, you’re out of luck.

Likewise, if your guy owes back taxes, your refund could be taken to pay off that balance. Again, once you’ve filed jointly, there’s very little recourse with respect to your refund.

So what’s a girl to do? File a separate tax return.

As much as you were looking forward to signing your tax return together and then toasting the milestone with a lovely glass of Cabernet Port, you’re better off postponing that moment until your guy is free of tax debt and/or child support obligations.

There are some drawbacks to filing separately when married, such as the loss of a few deductions, but there are also a whole host of other reasons why filing separately is the best course of action for high net worth women (and wannabes).

Even if you make so much money that a tax refund is a distant memory, it’s important to consider the potential consequences filing jointly may have on your finances.

It’s a complicated subject, one that you can learn more about in my book, Every Single Girl’s Guide to Her Future Husband’s Last Divorce. I also go into detail about the various options you have to further protect yourself from your husband’s past.

In addition to reading my book I also recommend you discuss these issues with your CPA. If you don’t have one, get one. You’re playing with the grownups now. Bring a copy of my book with you to your consultation – not every CPA is well versed on the subject.

Before you file, get educated about the state of your hubby’s finances, and the pros and cons of filing jointly. The deadline is April 15th, you know. You don’t always have to be the first in line!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Are All of Your Kids Equal?

Holiday shopping done yet? Me either. Just like you, I’m crazy busy with work, my husband, my kid, and that to-do list that, no matter what I do, only seems to only get longer.

So understand I feel your pain when I drop this new to-do on you: It’s time to make sure all your kids are created equal. This means the before and the after kids – your kids, and your partner’s kids from a previous marriage.

If you don’t have kids yet, reading this post will help you ensure any future children will be treated equally.

Making sure all of your kids receive an equally fabulous gift this holiday season is tough to say the least, especially when exes are involved. But I want you to think beyond the seasonal trinkets and toys that will be yesterday’s news come the spring thaw.

I want you to think about asset allocation. You: Groan. Me: Okay, okay. Bing Crosby is singing on the radio, you’re hanging up twinkling lights, and you're eating cordial cherries without feeling guilty. The LAST thing you want to think about is asset allocation.

Hear me out. People with children from more than one relationship must carefully consider if they have allocated their assets equally among ALL of their children. Very often, one set of kids gets the shaft; either the old family becomes invisible, or the new family is considered second best.

For example, what if one set of kids will inherit a trust fund at age 21, and the other set of kids will have to work their way through college? That kind of disparity is likely to make things rough at the dinner table.

What’s the best gift you can give your kids this holiday season? Find a way to treat all of your kids as equally as possible – from the presents under the tree, to the assets in the bank.

PS: If you see me at the mall looking dazed and confused, just pat me on the shoulder and point me in the direction of Starbucks…