More and more married Baby Boomers are opting to face their golden years not as part of a couple but as a single individual.
With their children grown and raising children of their own, many older adults can’t see spending another 20 or 30 years with a spouse they no longer love or even have anything in common with.
What Is A “Gray Divorce”?
Although retirement is often thought of as the season of life when couples get to spend time together doing what they have planned for years, for some this period doesn’t live up to what they expected and a parting of the ways occurs. Dubbed “gray divorce”, the number of couples who are aged 50 and older who are splitting up has nearly doubled since the 1990s, according to a recent report by the Pew Research Center. The divorce rate has nearly tripled for those aged 65 and older over the same time period.
The dissolution of these long-term marriages not only impacts the family, but the retirement savings of the couple involved, who must now make changes to their financial plans.
Couples who opt for a gray divorce may find themselves suddenly having to live off half of the income they are accustomed to. That can leave them feeling hurt and resentful, especially since those going through a gray divorce often have less working years in which to rebuild their financial assets. Money that has been accumulated over a lifetime of saving in 401(k) plans, IRAs, or 457 or 403(b) accounts is often split between the couple during the divorce proceedings. The greatest fear of many retirees is that they will run out of money before they run out of life, and divorcing later in life will certainly impact how you spend your retirement years.
Update Your Beneficiary Designations
A gray divorce also impacts the couple’s estate planning. Often, married couples who have been together for a long time have executed estate planning documents such as wills, trusts, powers of attorney and advanced medical directives naming each other as the executors of the document. During a divorce, the couple can overlook changing the beneficiary and executors of these documents, which can lead to future legal problems.
It is vitally important for a divorcing couple, no matter their age, to update their estate planning documents in order to guarantee that their final wishes are adhered to and carried out. An estate planning attorney can craft these documents with language that allows your plan to stay as it is in the event of a divorce should you neglect to change your beneficiary and executor. The documents can also be drawn up in a way that spells out what happens in the event of a divorce.