Pharos-Tribune

December 29, 2013

Smart Money: Division of money varies in a divorce


Pharos-Tribune

---- — DEAR BRUCE: If bank accounts and money market fund portfolios are in the husband’s name only, is the wife able to take half of that money should there be a divorce? And if the husband were to inherit money and he keeps it is his name only, is the wife able to touch that money? — Theresa, via email

DEAR THERESA: Unfortunately, there is no specific answer to any of your questions. You have to consult a lawyer or a tax accountant in the state where these things are going on.

There are two essential types of distribution if a divorce takes place. One is called “equitable distribution,” which simply means it is determined by the court how the money should be distributed — 60/40, 70/30 or evenly. Under “equal distribution,” the money would be distributed 50/50.

In some states, money kept aside is very difficult for the other spouse to claim, yet in other states, it would be split right down the middle no matter whose name it is in.

In short, you are going to have to consult a professional in your state who will need to know the specifics of the genesis of the money, any prenuptial agreements, etc., to make a determination. Even then, it may be appealed.

DEAR BRUCE: I am 75, retired, and have enjoyed the benefits of a Roth IRA for 15 years. I work part time as a substitute teacher for the necessary earned income to make annual contributions.

These investments have always been in CDs — in good years earning 5 percent, currently 3 percent. I always choose the longest period for the best rate, and transfer funds at maturity for the best available rate at that time.

You said in a recent article that the return should be 7 percent to 8 percent annually. Please tell me, where? — Reader, via email

DEAR READER: You don’t say so directly, but you must be risk adverse. It is true there was a time when CDs were earning 5 percent or 6 percent and they might have been attractive, but they most certainly are not now. At best they are a break-even proposition, taking taxes into account.

I am constantly being asked about my remarks regarding a 7 percent annual return. At the risk of redundancy, since so many continue to ask, my contention and my experience is that by investing in well-run, large American companies that oftentimes pay dividends, and taking into account growth, 6 percent to 8 percent return is not an unreasonable expectation.

Yes, there is a possibility of loss, and some years you will lose. But over a period of time, experience tells me that the 6 percent to 8 percent is not unrealistic. You should choose well-established companies that are here today and in all likelihood will be around tomorrow.