Late-life divorce is becoming more common as changes in culture have lessened the stigma associated with parting ways with your spouse. However, separating during the later years of your life involves some unique financial considerations, and here are two that are frequently overlooked.
Life Insurance and Other Death Benefits
Divorcing couples must update their estate plans to account for their new relationship statuses. In many cases, this usually means changing beneficiary information and removing the ex-spouse from medical and financial directives. However, the value of some insurance policies—particularly life insurance plans—should be negotiated as part of the divorce settlement.
That's because, in all likelihood, both spouses contributed to the payment of these policies through the comingling of income. With both spouses paying the policy premiums, it could be argued the policy is a marital property with the beneficiary spouse entitled to at least a portion of the proceeds should the covered spouse die.
Even if the beneficiary was a stay-at-home spouse who didn't contribute financially to the premiums, the person likely provided support in other ways that made it easier for the working spouse to earn income and/or save money. For instance, the stay-at-home spouse took care of the kids, which is money they save on childcare expenses.
Thus, when negotiating your divorce settlement, be sure to discuss how the value of a life insurance or death benefit policy will be handled. It might be more prudent to maintain the policy as is, but if your ex doesn't want to keep you on as a beneficiary, you could ask for the equivalent value in cash or assets.
Family Financial Obligations
Just as assets purchased during the marriage are generally considered marital property, debts are considered liabilities that both parties are responsible for paying, including any promises of financial assistance to loved ones. For instance, grandparents often offer to contribute to grandchildren's college funds, so that needs to be factored in when negotiating a divorce.
Make a list of all the money pledges you've made to your children, grandchildren, parents, or siblings and figure out how you will finance them. You and your ex could agree to create a trust and deposit cash and property into it to be used to pay designated recipients when it comes time to make good on your promises, for example.
It's essential you talk about this issue with a divorce attorney who can make valuable suggestions on the best way to handle future financial obligations. For help with your late-life divorce, contact a divorce lawyer.Share