The divorce rate has been on the rise across all demographics in Canada. But this trend has been particularly pronounced among couples aged 55 and over. Compared to divorces between younger spouses, so-called “grey divorces” have many unique considerations.
When you’ve got a few more years of life experience under your belt, divorce comes with even more change. Divorcing later in life means you will need to consider the implications of your marriage dissolution not just on your family – but also on your estate plan.
Major life changes call for a review of your estate plan
Making an estate plan is common practice among older demographics. Assets accumulated over a lifetime carry a lot of value – both emotionally and financially. Often, assets are left behind to family members. But anytime you go through a major life change, it’s a good idea to recheck who is set to receive what.
For example, if you are divorcing, you may no longer want your ex-spouse to be listed as a beneficiary to your assets. If your adult child marries, you may want to adjust your estate plan to include your new in-law. Similarly, if you welcome a new grandchild into your family, you may want to make arrangements to ensure they are provided for when you’re gone as well.
Special considerations in a grey divorce
Grey divorce tends to be more complex for a variety of reasons. Typically, a couple divorcing later in life already has an estate plan prepared. Divorcing may affect a number of arrangements that have been put in place. Some common factors to consider include:
- Retirement planning and funding
- Who will act as your power of attorney
- Who will determine your social security benefits
- Beneficiary designation
- Additional complexities related to blended families or changing domestic structures
At any age, divorce is a challenging process. But divorcing after decades of marriage usually involves greater shared assets and more complex family structures. In such cases, it’s important to remember to revise your estate plan to ensure that it reflects your wishes in your new circumstances.