A concerning trend occurring over the past several decades is the elevated rate of divorce among older adults. While younger and middle-aged couples are still divorcing at higher rates, more and more couples over age 50, are ending their marriages in so-called “Gray Divorces”, with the rate among senior citizens having tripled since 1990.
What many Older Americans do not realize is that while Gray Divorces come with unique challenges, they are not insurmountable. Let us share seven major considerations that elder divorcees and their adult children may want to consider as they plan together for the future.
1- Legal Guidance. Gray Divorces typically involve complicated scenarios due to a lifetime of building shared assets. Consulting an attorney to help navigate the ins-and-outs of various legal and financial situations can be of great value.
2- Estate Planning. Many late-in-life concerns are built into estate plans, which can be drastically impacted by a divorce. Any prior estate plans may need to be updated as soon as possible. This can be especially true when it comes to the legal planning tools, such as a durable power of attorney, that need a trusted decision maker in place.
3- Financial Stability. The outcome of a Gray Divorce can impact the remainder of an elder adult’s life. This is of particular importance given that most aging adults are beyond their prime working years. Alimony payments, reclaiming pre-marital assets, life insurance, and Social Security are just a few areas requiring attention to achieve lasting financial stability.
4-Retirement. Structuring professional compensation, pensions and retirement accounts, and other financial investments to support a lasting retirement can be key, especially since any previous nest eggs may be split during the divorce.
5- Long-Term Care. Developing a supported long-term care plan can go a long way toward creating peace of mind. This includes planning for housing, health care, transportation, and even companionship. While no one wants to consider a future where long-term care may be necessary, it is critical for divorcees to plan ahead.
6- Adult Children. Adult children can be a lifeline of support, but it is important for them to know their limits. Offering legal or health advice, for example, could be detrimental during a stressful time such as a divorce. Instead, guide an elder loved one to an attorney or medical professional who may give professional guidance appropriate for the situation.
7- Utilizing Other Professionals. Whether an emotional therapist, an adult caregiver or other professional, do not be afraid to ask for help. Especially at a time like this, Older Americans need guidance and support from trusted local professionals.
We know there is never a “good” time to go through divorce and are well aware of the challenges seniors face. Do not wait to ask us your questions and let us guide you through the considerations applicable to you as a senior or a child of an aging parent.