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While the overall divorce rate in the U.S. has declined over the past 20 years, it has doubled for Americans over the age of 50. Financial experts warn that the stakes are higher for those divorcing later in life, since their prime earning years are behind them and retirement looms on the horizon. If money mistakes are made, there is less time to recover, so experts advise divorcing boomers to:

Understand the true value of retirement funds. For many boomers, their retirement accounts can be their most significant asset. The value of those accounts is not the balance, since withdrawals are taxed – experts say the true value is about 65 percent of the balance. In community property states like California, this miscalculation can hurt – if one spouse takes the house and the other takes the retirement accounts, what looks equal on paper could turn out to be horribly lopsided a few years down the road.

Don’t overvalue alimony. Alimony is often used to compensate for discrepancies in a couple’s income, but relying on monthly alimony payments gets much riskier after 50 since the chance of the payer dying is greater. You may want to consider getting a life insurance policy on your ex as a precaution.

Don’t undervalue Social Security. If you were married for more than 10 years, the lower income spouse is entitled to half the higher income spouse’s Social Security benefits once she or he turns 62 and is not remarried. This should be figured into alimony negotiations.

Don’t forget the kids. Couples who divorce later in life won’t usually have custody battles to deal with, but they may still want to protect assets for their children in case of their remarriage. You can create a lifetime asset protection trust to protect your assets for your children, and keep them protected in case your children divorce.

The Flanigan Law Group provides Southern California residents with personal attention for estate planning, administration and litigation legal services. When disputes between families, arise, they are very successful in resolving legal estate issues quickly and efficiently while preserving financial and emotional resources. Contact the Flanigan Law Group at 949-450-0042.