The Baby Boomer Divorce and Why Collaborative Divorce Is a Good Choice for the Over 50 Crowd

Al and Tipper Gore's wedding, 1970

by Michele Sacks Lowenstein, Certified Family Law Specialist,
Lowenstein Brown A P.L.C.

Do you know that 25% of people getting divorced today are over 50?

Do you know that getting a divorce late in life presents additional financial consequences?

Do you know that people who divorce late in life are more likely than not to seek alternative to litigation?

Michele Sacks Lowenstein Divorce for those 50 and up has increased from 10% to 25% of all divorces. What’s behind today’s Baby Boomer divorce boom? Some theorize that as we grow older, lose our elderly parents and face retirement and the “empty nest” that these events are catalysts for Baby Boomers to reassess their lives. At age 65, people can be expected to live another 20 – 25 years and are less willing to sacrifice the years they have left to a marriage which no longer meets their needs.

The Baby Boomer divorce presents unique financial consequences. A late in life divorce impacts years of retirement planning. For the more economically secure the late in life divorce, while still disruptive to retirement plans, it can mean a new life with minimal negative consequences. For those less secure, the late in life divorce can result in financial uncertainty or devastation.

Regardless of the couples’ financial circumstances, the over 50 divorce requires people to take stock of their Social Security benefits, health insurance and housing costs. For some, this can mean rejoining the work force after an absence of many years. Attorneys representing older individuals must be able to provide strategic thinking and advice to what repositioning needs to be done with respect to retirement planning.

Collaborative Divorce is an ideal alternative to litigation for the Baby Boomers who have planned for their retirements. They understand that tackling the problems creatively can help them find solutions that will allow them to preserve not only their nest egg, but move on with their lives. This can best be accomplished by working with professionals who are experienced in the division of more complex estates and attuned to the unique problems presented by the late in life divorce.

 

 

 

 

Broken Trust: Advice About Estate Planning During A Divorce

by Meredith L. Brown, Esq.
Brown & Brown

Many couples prepare Wills and Trusts in connection with a happy life event, such as the birth of a child. Frequently these documents are placed in a safe deposit box, never to be updated or even thought about again.

When the unfortunate life event of divorce happens, couples often opt to defer consideration of their old estate planning. No one wants to think about their mortality on a good day, much less when divorce is on their mind. This decision is understandable, but it is probably unwise and potentially costly.

First, a note of caution: if a Petition to dissolve the marriage has already been filed, the law requires that specific steps be taken before changes are made to Wills and Trusts. Similarly, there is an automatic restraint against making changes to beneficiary designations on any insurance. Couples must be sure to comply with these rules.

Family law does not place restrictions on changes to your Advance Health Care Directive after you have filed for divorce. Most couples designate their spouse as their legal voice when it comes to treatment and end of life decisions. Even in divorce situations where couples are amicable, it may not be appropriate for a soon-to-be ex spouse to make these decisions in the midst of a divorce.

How do you decide whether to change your existing estate plan?

The first (and obvious) step is to read and understand your documents. Most couples prepare documents that leave the estate to the survivor between them. Then, ultimately, the estate goes to their children. But this is not always the case, particularly in second marriages.

If you acquired assets after your Trust was created (for example a new home), determine whether title was taken in the name of your Trust. If you hold assets outside of your Trust, you could have the cost of a probate proceeding.

Even if you haven’t done any estate planning but own real estate or other titled assets with your spouse, be sure to check the deed or other title documents. Certain forms of title such as joint tenancy carry with them an automatic right of survivorship. You should consider whether you wish to change the form of title to one without survivorship rights. But before you make any changes, be sure to comply with the notice requirements mandated by law.

Second, ask yourself:  if you were hit by the proverbial truck before your divorce is final, would you want your spouse to receive your share of the estate? If you have children, do you trust that your former spouse will preserve your share of the estate so that your children ultimately receive everything? Would you feel differently if your former spouse sold the marital residence? What if he or she remarried?

Keep in mind that even if you decide to change your estate planning by preparing new Wills and Trusts, your former spouse may still have control over assets you leave to your children, if they are still under age 18. If you do not wish for this to happen, you will need to designate someone else as the guardian of the estate of your children.

As you may guess, determining how your assets are distributed upon your death can be complicated like many other aspects of your life when you file for divorce.  But this is something you need to address for the well-being of yourself and your children. You don’t have to go it alone.  Investing in the advice of an attorney with expertise in estate planning as well as a skilled financial specialist is an investment well worth making.

If you pursue a Collaborative Divorce, a financial specialist is part of your divorce team.  This can be extremely helpful if you are also working through a complex estate plan. It’s another smart reason to consider the Collaborative Process for your divorce.