Estate Planning and Gray Divorce

Andrew Hatherley |

Divorce can be especially complicated when it happens later in life. For those who are getting divorced later in life, estate planning issues can arise that may not be as much of a concern for younger couples. In this blog post, we'll explore some of the estate planning issues that can arise for those who are getting divorced later in life.

Updating Wills and Trusts

One of the most important things to do when going through a divorce is to update your will and any trusts that you have in place. If you have a will that leaves assets to your ex-spouse, you will want to change that to ensure that your assets go to the people you want them to go to. Similarly, if you have a trust that names your ex-spouse as a beneficiary, you will need to update it to remove them as a beneficiary. It is important to note that in some states, divorce automatically revokes certain provisions in a will or trust, so it's important to consult with an attorney to make sure your documents are updated correctly.

Beneficiary Designations

Many people have accounts with beneficiary designations, such as retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and bank accounts. These designations will override any instructions in your will or trust, so it's important to update them after a divorce. If you don't update your beneficiary designations, your ex-spouse may still receive the assets when you pass away.

Power of Attorney and Healthcare Directives

When you're married, your spouse is usually your agent under your power of attorney and healthcare directives. These documents give your spouse the authority to make financial and healthcare decisions for you if you become incapacitated. After a divorce, it's important to update these documents to name a new agent.

Guardianship of Minor Children

If you have minor children, you will need to make sure that your divorce agreement addresses who will have custody of the children if you pass away. If you have a will, you can name a guardian for your children. If you don't have a will or if your will does not address guardianship, the court will decide who will have custody of your children.

Estate Tax Planning

Estate tax planning can be more complex for those who are getting divorced later in life. If you and your ex-spouse had a significant amount of assets together, you may need to work with an attorney to develop a plan that minimizes your estate tax liability. This may involve setting up trusts or gifting assets to your heirs while you are still alive.

In conclusion, divorce later in life can be challenging, but taking the time to update your estate plan can help ensure that your assets go to the people you want them to go to and that your wishes are carried out. Working with an experienced estate planning attorney can help you navigate the complexities of estate planning during and after a divorce.