Late-in-life divorce has become increasingly prevalent in the last 25 years, with the divorce rate for those over the age of 50 doubling. One in four people who go through divorce are now over the age of 50. No matter why a couple might choose to separate, divorce at this stage in life brings about many unique issues and factors to consider. If you are filing or considering a late-in-life divorce, prepare yourself for all scenarios by reading on some possible challenges you might encounter.
Separating your Assets
One of the most challenging aspects of a divorce at any age is separating the many assets you and your spouse have acquired over the course of your life together. An experienced attorney, like those at Protokowicz & Rodier, will be able to help you value your assets correctly. When determining the value of an asset, you must consider both its market value and its future practical value. To understand the distinction, let’s look at several types of assets you might have to asses.
- Your Home: Your home, independent of its market value, has a very high future value/benefit not only for ease of life, but also for the following reasons:
- It can serve as a potential source of income
- Homeowners may qualify for exemptions from and waivers for property taxes, and mortgage deductions
- Homeownership may qualify individuals for public benefits
- Your Retirement Funds: Separating retirement plans can be tricky but an experienced lawyer should be able to help you navigate this issue. In many cases, a separate court order, called a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDROs), is needed.
- Your Social Security Retirement Benefits: While the State Court cannot divide, or alter, one’s rights to Federal Social Security Benefits, the benefits you anticipate receiving could play a large role in determining other relief, such as alimony. There are many nuances to these regulations that a lawyer can help you understand. To determine how your Social Security Retirement Benefits may be impacted by divorce, please visit the Social Security Administration’s website.
A late in life divorce comes at a time in life when the possibility of serious health conditions is high. When one spouse suffers from serious health issues, this can impact the way in which your assets can be divided. For instance, if illness prevents one spouse from earning sufficient income on their own, they may be eligible for alimony from the other. Moreover, if a spouse has cognitive impairment they might need a guardian to ensure that they are making sound and smart decisions during the divorce proceedings.
Divorcing couples also need to take into consideration the beneficiaries and executers of their estate plan. If your children are the beneficiaries of your estate, ensure that the plan still reflects your desired division post-divorce. In many cases, a spouse is the person who would have power of attorney or be a designated agent in medical directives, but given the separation you will need to reevaluate and pick a new trusted person to fill that role.
When exploring how divorce will affect your estate planning, consider the following:
- Death Benefits from life insurance, retirement plans, will or trusts: Are you still eligible to either receive or provide them from/to your ex-spouse?
- Establishing Trusts: In a divorce, there are many future responsibilities that need to be taken into consideration such as financial support for your children or grandchildren. Consider establishing a trust with funds from your assets or the settlement to ensure that those responsibilities are met.
There are several factors that can lead to a late in life divorce; infidelity, financial burdens, life changes or even simply a desire for more freedom. Regardless of the reasoning, a divorce is a hard situation to navigate. As a potential late-in-life divorcee, it is vital to understand the challenges ahead so you and your lawyer can prepare for them.
Nothing will help you feel more prepared than having a seasoned attorney at your side. The lawyers at Protokowicz & Rodier have handled countless late-in-life divorce cases and have the experience and skills to properly represent your best interests. For more information or to schedule a consultation, please contact us online or by phone at 410.803.1839.