Are you going through a divorce as a long-term couple and need some guidance? The Law Office of James A. Graham is here to assist you. We are professional and experienced lawyers in New Orleans, LA, and we will have your back during this difficult time. In this article, we will tell you about some important things to think about when going through this type of divorce.
What is a gray divorce?
A gray divorce is when an older couple who has been in a long-term marriage gets divorced. It is typically referred to as a “gray” divorce because that is the color hair that older couples tend to have when they divorce. Even though the divorce rate in the United States has declined, it is still on the rise for people who are over 50. Some of the reasons for gray divorce include the following:
- Financial issues
- Losing feelings and growing apart
- Addiction problems
- Longer life expectancy
- Empty nest syndrome
Assets involved in gray divorce cases
Most older couples have been married for years, and possibly even decades. If this is the case, they most likely have built a life together and acquired assets throughout their lives together. For example, a house that the couple purchased and lived in together is a very valuable asset. Unfortunately, these types of assets cannot be easily divided like money and bank accounts. Therefore, the house may either need to be sold or one spouse will need to buy out their portion of the house from the other spouse.
Other types of important assets that will need to be reassessed and equally distributed are savings accounts, retirement accounts, pension benefits, shares of stock, gifts, wills and trusts, and any other type of property such as vacation homes or investment homes.
When a couple is going through a divorce, they will also need to update and change their estate plans, as these plans were originally made with a lifelong marriage in mind. An estate planning lawyer can assist with this process and make sure everything is updated and altered to fit your new life without your ex-spouse.
Why are assets and property important during a gray divorce?
Assets are important during any type of divorce. As a matter of fact, they are considered marital property because they were accumulated during the span of the marriage. Marital property must be divided equally when going through a divorce, and each spouse is entitled to the assets.
It is important to be aware of and understand all the assets that are considered to be marital property. It is also important to know that identifying and distributing marital assets can become very complicated, which is why you should hire an experienced estate planning lawyer to make this task easier for you. This will help protect your assets and ensure that you receive each piece of marital property that you are entitled to. The Law Office of James A. Graham has the knowledge and experience to guide older adults through the process and help resolve any issues that come up when looking at your estate plans.
Checklist of things to consider when going through a gray divorce
- Create a list of your assets
In most relationships, one person handles the finances more than the other. As a result, one individual is more aware of the assets, the investment accounts, and savings accounts. If this is the case, you should take the time to sit down and make a list of all your assets to ensure that you know what they are, how much they are worth, and how you want them divided.
- Be aware of what you owe
Louisiana has community property laws regarding division of assets and debts. All assets gained during a marriage that were not a gift or inheritance are equally owned between both spouses. This includes debts. This means that you will be accountable for your spouse’s liabilities, whether they are in your name or not. It is also advisable to get a full credit report to see if either of you owe anything and, if so, how much.
- Do not forget tax ramifications
When you are going through a divorce, every financial decision will most likely be accompanied by a tax bill. Spousal support and investment accounts are examples of financial decisions that will have tax consequences.
- Do not forget health insurance
If you are under the age of 65 and not yet using Medicare, you might be hit with unexpected costs when your spouse’s health insurance no longer covers you. You may have the following options instead: Ask your employer to cover your health insurance, try to get your state’s healthcare exchange, or see if you can get coverage through COBRA.
- Do not hide any assets from your spouse.
You may think it is a good idea to hide your assets from your spouse, so that it looks like you have less money to equally distribute. However, this could lead to unnecessary legal issues – sometimes even criminal charges – and legal costs that could have been avoided. The court may discover that you have hidden assets, which will make the process a lot harder on you than it needed to be.
- Be aware of your expenses
Take a deep and realistic look at how much money you will need to cover your monthly and daily expenses. Make sure that you can afford these expenses without your spouse once your divorce is finalized.
If you are going through a gray divorce and need help with updating or changing your estate plans, get in touch with the Law Office of James A. Graham. Our New Orleans estate planning attorneys are always ready and available when it comes to assisting our clients with these issues. For your convenience, we also have an office in Slidell. Fill out our contact form, and we will contact you as soon as possible.