The continuing trend of couples 50 and older divorcing in record numbers continues. Much of this monumental shift is the result of people living longer. The concept of “’til death do you part” for soon-to-be seniors may fall out of fashion when the idea of a life-ending seems far into the future.
Fueling the relatively new “gray divorce” fad is also having an impact when it comes to the estate planning process later in life. Unique dynamics now exist that involve blended families, their designations, and domestic structures.
A source of conflict?
In 2020, TD Wealth surveyed attorneys, financial and charitable giving professionals, insurance advisors, elder law specialists, and educators. The results revealed 25 percent of respondents claimed that a recent gray divorce has led to serious conflict within a family.
Additionally, designating beneficiaries was also a significant source of dispute for 13 percent of those preparing the all-important documents. Tax reform, longer life expectancy, and increased health care costs were both 25 percent.
Nearly 40 percent cited retirement planning and funding had an impact on factors surrounding estate plans. Mature adults who may already have some form of estate planning in place feel the impact of power of attorney decisions, determining Social Security benefits, and creating a will.
Forty-three percent of estate planners and attorneys cited the inter-family conflicts coming from a lack of communication in starting the process, with nearly a third taking the critical step to involve blended families.
Later in life-changing times can be emotionally charged and legally complex. Regardless of age, ensuring family harmony in estate planning presents significant challenges in maintaining family harmony.