by Pam Mundell, CFP, CLU, CHS
Preparation is half the battle.
Divorce rates for people over the age of 50 in long-lasting marriages are on the rise. Grey divorce is a term referring to the demographic trend of increasing divorce rates for older, grey-haired, couples in longterm marriages. Longer marriages produce more assets and more stuff to separate. Navigating this stressful life-event can be complex. My tips for people approaching a grey divorce:
Get accurate statements. Once you and your spouse have come to a decision to separate, get an accurate tally of all your assets and liabilities. You will need current bank statements, most recent credit card statements, investment statements for RRSPs and/or RRIFs, TFSAs, brokerage accounts, savings accounts, employer sponsored pension plan statements, and also Canada Pension Plan (CPP) statements. Every asset and liability owned and registered jointly or individually must be accounted for.
Get professional advice. Seek the services of a lawyer that specializes in family law and has the time to take you on as a client. Each spouse will need their own lawyer to represent the best interest of each partner. Get professional advice right away.
Determine the market valuation of your principal residence (matrimonial home) plus any vacation properties or rental properties that you and your spouse may own.
If one spouse has left the matrimonial home or is planning on moving out, a separate second home will create extra expenses. Co-operation is needed to ensure both spouses have enough cash flow to ensure the necessities are covered. The joint bank account may need to be maintained for a period of time to ensure joint financial obligations are looked after. If credit cards are jointly shared, then one spouse will need to apply for a separate credit card and then be removed from the joint card.
Familiarize yourself with the range of spousal support that may need to be paid by you, or paid to you, by your soon-to-be ex-spouse. You can look online at Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines — Justice Canada (SAAG) for the low, mid and high ranges based on income levels, age of both spouses and length of marriage.
Make a budget! It’s very important to have a clear understanding of your new financial status and financial obligations before one spouse or both spouses purchase new homes. Get a financial plan prepared by a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) to incorporate your new financial situation. Retirement goals and plans may need to be adjusted. Enlist the services of a financial planner who can help you understand your financial options and how each financial decision will impact you for the rest of your life.
Use a mediator to help facilitate a fair, cost effective and timely separation of your financial assets. A mediator is retained by both spouses and works in the best interest of both partners. The mediator’s objective is to arrive at a fair and cost-effective solution for both spouses.
Set an appropriate timeline for separation of all the assets. A business that one spouse owns or jointly owned, second vacation homes, pensions, RRSP and/or RRIF investments, TFSA investments, joint investments, rental properties all may require more time.
Enlist support from friends and family. Surround yourself with the positive, permanent people in your life. Reach out to friends and family. Keep yourself busy, watch comedy, try a new hobby, and consider joining a support group.
Help those less fortunate. Volunteer at a local shelter, volunteer as a driver, volunteer at any local event, perhaps a running or sporting event and surround yourself with happy active people.
Be patient and fair and work towards a successful amicable separation of assets that accumulated over your marriage.
Pam Mundell is a licensed investment fund advisor and independent life insurance broker and the principal of Pam Mundell Financial Planning Services in Kingston, Ontario. She can be reached for questions or comments at email@example.com or (613-417-7117).
(Republished with permission from www.fifty-five-plus.com)