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What is a Gray Divorce & How It’s Affecting Estate Planning

Gray Divorce is a complicated topic, but we’re here to help. Keep reading to find out what gray divorce is and how it’s affecting the estate planning industry.

Divorce plays a large factor in your Estate Planning and can cause a lot of changes, often resulting in a completely new set of documents needing to be made. This is especially true of gray divorce, which in recent years has been on the rise.

What is Gray Divorce?

Gray divorce is a term that was coined to describe the rising increase in divorce rates of older couples in long-term marriages. It is used to refer to divorces that occur at the age of 50 or older, and it is often referred to as the “silver splitter” or “diamond divorce” due to the effect that it has on finances.

Although the rate of divorces in the United States is decreasing, gray divorces are continuing to increase. Since the 1990s, the number of divorces that occur among adults 50 years or older has doubled, and the number of divorces among adults 65 and older has tripled. It was discovered in 2015 alone that out of every 1,000 marriages among adults that are 50 years or older, 10 of them divorced, leading many to wonder what has caused such a rise.

Gray Divorce Reasons

Gray divorces are on the rise in part due to the reality that Baby Boomers are now entering this age range, significantly increasing the overall population of adults aged 50 and older. However, it is not the only factor. For years, there was a stigma held around people who got divorced; however, that stigma has decreased over time, allowing older people to feel more comfortable about deciding to divorce their spouse, including those who would fit in the age category of a gray divorce.

According to Forbes, these are the most common reasons that gray divorce occurs:

  • Finances: Significant debt can put stress on a relationship, causing arguments and frustrations.

  • Loss of connection: As the years go by, couples can begin to grow apart and change, which in turn can cause a couple to no longer feel close.

  • Infidelity: The discovery that your spouse has been or was cheating on you can break up a marriage, regardless of the number of years put into it. 

  • Rise in life expectancy: As medicine has improved, so has our overall life span, allowing people more time than they originally planned on. This in turn can cause people to break out of unhappy marriages because they believe they have more time to find true happiness once again.

  • Addictions: Any addiction, from alcohol to drugs, can cause a spouse to neglect their partner and their responsibilities. This in turn causes a spouse to lose love and trust in their partner.

Pros and Cons of Gray Divorce

Gray divorce is a complicated topic, with both benefits and drawbacks. A list of a few is included below.


  1. Gray divorce allows the opportunity for a fresh chance at happiness for those who have been feeling stuck within an unhappy relationship.

  2. It gives people the freedom of independence they may have been missing.


  1. Those who are financially dependent on their spouse may struggle at first.

  2. It can be difficult to adjust to being alone after so many years of being married to someone, which sometimes leads to feelings of loneliness, isolation, or depression.

  3. Your children may take it harder than you.

  4. It can affect your Estate Planning.

Effects on Estate Planning

Trust & Will knows that gray divorce has its own set of issues that makes it a complicated decision. We want to help guide you through this process and summarize some of the main considerations a gray divorce can have on Estate Planning.

1. Will

Most likely you and your spouse created a joint Will over the course of your marriage that includes all your joint assets and finances. However, a gray divorce poses an issue for your joint Will, as you will be splitting assets between each other. It will be important to create an individual Will for yourself and whatever amount of assets you acquire in your separation.

2. Trust

As with your Will, it is common that you and your husband may have created a joint Trust, in which you have named a joint Trustee for various assets. In the event of your divorce, you will need to create a separate Trust and choose your own individual Trustee for your remaining assets.

3. Healthcare Directive

When you are married, it is likely that you named your spouse your Healthcare Power of Attorney within your Healthcare Directive, which means they are the sole person who is allowed to make decisions on your medical needs if you are not capable of doing so yourself. Once you are divorced, you will need to update your Healthcare Directive and choose a new Healthcare Power of Attorney.

4. Financial Power of Attorney

A Financial Power of Attorney is responsible for all your finances and bank accounts in the event that you can no longer manage them yourself due to illness or incapacitation. As a married couple, it is probable that you have listed each other as your Financial Power of Attorney, as many of your finances may be the same. It is even possible that you only have joint banking accounts. Once you complete your gray divorce, you will need to name your own Financial Power of Attorney and create separate banking accounts. 

Gray divorce complicates many aspects of your life, and your Estate Plan is just one of them. Trust & Will wants to help make updating your Estate Plan online an easy process, giving you more time to focus on your new life and future. With Trust & Will, you can create your Trust-Based Estate Plan online and your Will. We will guide you from start to finish from the comfort of your couch. If you are struggling to decide what your new Estate Plan should look like, Trust & Will, a leader in online estate planning, can offer you a quick and easy online quiz to help you get started. Visit our website today to learn more!


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