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TD Wealth Report Highlights Estate Planning Issues Following “Gray Divorce”


One major life event that can have a significant impact on your estate planning is divorce. And while you might think of divorce as something primarily experienced by younger people, the reality is that the divorce rate has been increasing among the over-50 demographic. This is known in some quarters as “gray divorce,” and its effect on estate planning is not often fully appreciated.

TD Wealth recently conducted a survey of estate planners and attorneys on the subject of gray divorce. According to TD Wealth, about 40 percent of the respondents said these over-50 divorces were causing a “rise in family conflict,” which is “already a significant challenge within estate planning.” A TD Wealth official elaborated that gray divorces add “another layer of complexity to the estate planning process that already arises with blended families, designation of heirs and the ever-changing domestic structures.”

So why would divorce, particularly among older couples, create estate planning problems? Here are a few things to consider:

  • If divorce is followed by remarriage, there may be a conflict between the person’s desire to provide for their new spouse while also not excluding their adult children from the prior marriage.
  • There is often mistrust between adult children and stepparents, which can lead to legal conflicts after the parent dies, such as allegations of “undue influence” in procuring a new will or trust.
  • There are often disagreements over who should have the right to make decisions for the parent in the event they become physically or mentally incapacitated and incapable of managing their own affairs.
  • Similarly, the parent may feel pressured to make certain estate planning decisions, such as the designation of beneficiaries for retirement accounts or life insurance policies, to “appease” a particular faction within the family.

Even when remarriage or blended families are not an issue, a divorce should still prompt careful review and revision of an existing estate plan. For example, if your ex-spouse was previously designated as a beneficiary, you may need to file a new beneficiary designation. You may also need to disentangle your ex from any existing trust arrangement if that was not already addressed during the divorce.

Speak with a Lee County, Florida Estate Planning Attorney Today

One thing to keep in mind when making or revising an estate plan is that it is generally a good idea to keep your family in the loop. There is no easier way to promote family conflict, especially after a traumatic divorce, then to keep your will and other estate planning arrangements secret from your loved ones. A little upfront communication can go a long way to preventing unnecessary litigation after you are gone.

If you need advice or assistance in reviewing your estate plan following a divorce, contact the Kuhn Law Firm, P.A., at 239-333-4529 today to schedule a free confidential consultation. Our qualified Fort Myers estate planning attorneys can sit down with you and help you decide the best way forward for your will or trust after a divorce or any other major life event.


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