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Why Texas 'gray divorces' may require financial advisors

Many people 50 and older may not appreciate the term "gray divorce." However, it's widely used since the finding that the divorce rate doubled for people in that age group between 1990 and 2010.

People who are past middle age often must consider different issues when they divorce than younger people. These include retirement benefits, health care, Social Security and estate plans.

Some issues are shared by divorcing people of all ages, but may be more crucial to mature people. You want to work to ensure that your well-being and financial security are protected as you become a single adult again at this stage of your life. As one certified divorce financial analyst notes, "After 50, you'll have fewer years to recoup from financial errors…."

It may be a good idea to bring in a financial advisor to help determine the valuation of your assets and separate marital assets from individual ones. Aside from income and savings, you'll need to consider your retirement accounts, residential properties, life insurance, investments and possibly businesses.

At this stage of life, your health care and long-term care insurance policies are also important considerations. Going from a policy that covers both of you to an individual one can be costly after 50. Make sure that you still have adequate coverage. You may want to include stipulations in the divorce agreement involving how medical and/or assisted living care will be paid for, particularly if either or both of you have serious or chronic medical conditions.

If you have an estate plan as a couple, you'll need to review it. While it's always best when estranged spouses can agree on the terms of the divorce, it's particularly important that they work together to minimize the impact on their children and grandchildren's inheritances.

An analysis of your debt is just as important as that of your assets. Texas is a community property state. That means that you can be held responsible for debt that is in your spouse's name alone. Financial experts recommend getting a full credit report before you begin the divorce process so that you know what you're dealing with.

Divorce later in life can be complicated. However, with experienced legal and financial advice and a determination to put emotions aside to work towards a fair settlement, couples can get through it expeditiously and move on to the next stage of their lives.

Source: USA Today, "Protect finances in later-in-life divorce" Anna Helhoski, NerdWallet, Nov. 23, 2014

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