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Pain of 'gray divorce' can extend to financial matters

Recent studies indicate that divorce among older Americans is on the rise. Texas is not immune from such trends. Those with experience in dealing with issues related to dissolutions understand that the development may represent unique challenges for those on the cusp of their golden years.

In addition to the emotional pain that nearly always accompanies divorce, those going through the process in their later years face the added question of how to maintain the lifestyle they have come to enjoy once they are retired. Divorce has a way of presenting unforeseen issues. Anticipating them is possible with the help of an experienced attorney.

Some Kentucky social scientists have been looking at the issue of gray divorce for some time. They note that rates of divorce have been more than doubled among people between 55 and 65 since 1990. The rate has tripled for those in the 65-and-older demographic. And the researchers say the financial aspect is one that should be of particular concern for those in the baby boom generation.

That's because time is not on their side. Individuals who divorce at younger ages have more years of working life remaining than older folks to recover from the financial hit that divorce can deliver. Decades of financial planning by a couple that created a foundation for a well-funded retirement can suffer major erosion in divorce, so a solid reassessment of things is required.

Here are a few things that many experts agree should be examined, but often go unaddressed.

  • Changing beneficiaries of insurance, pension and retirement accounts: Primary and secondary beneficiary information must be changed to be sure it is not superseded by a will.
  • Altering power of attorney designations: Chances are your spouse is currently named as power of attorney. Chances are equally good that you don't want that situation to exist after the divorce.
  • Maximizing contributions to retirement plans: Tax rules allow those 50 and older to put more into 401(k)'s and IRAs than younger workers. To speed financial recovery in a gray divorce, experts recommend using that to your advantage.

Clearly there's a need for going into the divorce process in later age with eyes wide open to minimize possible difficulties.

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