Our readers are likely familiar with the term gray divorce. It refers to divorcing couples that are 50 or older. And, when couples divorce during this time in their life, there are a few unique issues that should be discussed with an attorney prior to filing for divorce, especially if the couple is amicable.
For those later in life, there is likely a family home. It is probably larger than either spouse will need in their new single life, especially if the couple’s children have already left the house. This mean that if the couple is expecting a relatively “friendly” gray divorce, it may be wise to sell the family home and purchase two properties while the couple is married. This is because the couple will likely qualify for better loan terms with both of their incomes.
But, for those couples where one spouse has significantly more income, the other spouse may not qualify for a home alone. Handling these real estate transactions prior to a divorce will allow for the couple to use the previous years’ joint tax returns. Then, as part of the divorce settlement, the other spouse can buy out the other spouse’s ownership percentage.
The most often fought about topic in a divorce is children, especially younger children. For gray divorces though, children are usually not a factor because those children are already adults. This means that the children will simply need to be planed for in each spouse’s estate plan. But, as these will be common beneficiaries, it can still be a good idea to estate plan for the children together, even if a divorce is planned. Though, to make the split easier, the estates should be split.
Beneficiaries versus heirs
Do not forget to keep account beneficiaries up to date! A listed beneficiary almost always supersedes a designated heir in a will or a trust. In California, even if one remarries after a divorce, if the prior spouse is listed as the beneficiary, that prior spouse, not the current spouse, is fully entitled to the account. Of course, for Los Angeles, California, couples going through a high-asset gray divorce, the key takeaway here is to plan before filing and to speak to an attorney.