With greater longevity and more dual-income households, adults over the age of 50 are filing for divorce in growing numbers. The divorce rate, according to Pew Research, has more than doubled for baby boomers since the 1990s, and nearly two years into the pandemic, that figure may be set to increase further. In addition to dividing assets, it’s important for older couples splitting up to consider their care plan should they become ill, injured, or disabled.
Even happily married couples may face aging challenges due to unexpected events. Women especially, who have lost earning years as caregivers for children or elderly parents, are often more financially impacted by “grey divorce” or the sudden loss of a partner. Beyond the division of assets and liabilities, ongoing care if one spouse becomes ill or dies should also be part of divorce discussions. Life insurance, beneficiaries, and guardianship of minor children will also need to be considered in any estate planning.
According to a recent AARP Family Caregiving post, care plans including assigning healthcare proxies who will take care of your medical needs if you are not able, as well as a financial power of attorney will need to be hammered out during a divorce. Making these arrangements will help minimize friction and ease the burden on children, who may feel in the middle between divorced parents.
Building a trusted network of friends and family is important to age well. When circumstances change due to divorce, illness, or other factors, having a tight-knit community to lean on is invaluable. Young adult children are often sandwiched between building careers, raising a family, and caring for aging parents. Having a plan in place for the expected, and the unexpected aspects of growing old can be a tremendous relief for grown children trying to navigate the care of aging parents.
Although divorce can often be bitter and bring out the worst in people, older adults with children who are separating will inevitably need to interact with one another in the future. By making advanced plans concerning finances, health, caregiving, and end-of-life, older adults leaving a marriage can ensure their wishes are fulfilled while helping to ease the stress and burden on loved ones. A mediator, and a certified divorce financial planner, may be helpful to navigate the complex issues of later-in-life divorce.
Read more about navigating divorce after 50 by following this link to a recent blog post by Heather Locus CPA, CFP, CDFA.