Calling it quits after 50?
If you’re going through a divorce later in life you’re not alone — it’s actually a growing trend, leading researchers to coin the phase “Gray Divorce.”
The divorce rate among adults over age 50 doubled between 1990 and 2014, according to the National Center for Family & Marriage Research. For those over 65, divorces tripled during roughly the same period.
Older couples going through the process may be in for a rude awakening when it comes to their nest eggs.
“The biggest difference is time,” said Crystal Alford-Cooper, a certified financial planner and owner of Davita Financial Planning in Savage, Maryland. “An older couple are closer to retirement, so you have less years to make up.”
Having an empty nest may lead to some unexpected issues, said family law attorney Lynne Gold-Bikin, with Wolf, Block, Schorr and Solis-Cohen in Norristown, Pennsylvania.
“After kids are out of the home, that is when they should be saving money,” Gold-Bikin said. “When we talk about gray divorce, it’s the standard of living they now have, and can they sustain it?”
Decide if you can live off your post-split savings
While negotiating your divorce agreement, it’s important to take a hard look at what you’ll receive in the form of retirement accounts, Social Security and property, said Alford-Cooper.
“At one point you had 100 percent of the assets between the two of you,” Alford-Cooper said. “Now you have a lesser piece of the pie. The question becomes is that going to get you through your life span?”
Consider selling the house
When looking over your future income, if you find you’re coming up short and aren’t able to work or don’t want to, then it’s time to consider selling the family home — where for many people most of their wealth is likely tied up.
“One of the biggest challenges we face is divorcees who tend to be female who have been homemakers or have earned less,” Alford-Cooper said. “A large percentage of women can’t afford to stay in their homes.”
Change your beneficiaries
Once you’ve made the tough decisions and have a plan in place, don’t forget to amend the named beneficiary on any retirement accounts. Time and again courts have sided with the beneficiary listed on plan documents over an updated will. Which means if something should happen to you and your ex is on the paperwork, he or she gets the money.
Educate yourself on the basics
It’s common for only one spouse to handle the money. If that was not you, it’s time to go out and take a personal finance class. Look to your community college for courses on how to handle the basics and visit your bank for help in setting up a new checking account and online banking.
Taking these steps will help you through this difficult transition and make sure you still get to retire well.