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Complications from gray divorce could fuel estate litigation

Planning the future of one's wealth can become complicated when former spouses, remarriages and blended families are in the mix. When a long marriage ends, estate planning might be one of the last things on the minds of those involved. However, if these issues are not addressed head-on, older divorcees in Ontario could be putting themselves at risk for estate litigation.

The rate of individuals over the age of 50 getting divorced has doubled over the past two decades. Unsurprisingly, there are unique financial consequences to ending a marriage so late in life, especially if the marriage was very long and the couple's wealth was largely accumulated while they were together. Power of attorney, pensions, retirement savings and wills can all be impacted by these break-ups.

There are many reasons why a growing number of older adult couples may be choosing to part ways. Improved health care is allowing some people to maintain their energy longer, while empty nests, changing priorities and more financial independence for women may be factors for others. Whatever the reason, splitting assets after decades together can be very difficult. But, deciding whether a former spouse should remain a beneficiary after one dies is an even more challenging decision.

There are many considerations for how to split assets, both at the time of the divorce and after one spouse passes away. Is a new spouse involved? What are the tax implications? These issues can result in estate litigation if not thoroughly discussed and legally clarified at the time of the marriage ending. Those who are involved in contentious estate issues resulting from a gray divorce should reach out to an Ontario lawyer to understand their legal options.

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