Few events can derail plans like a divorce. Even the most carefully prepared futures can quickly become uncertain when a couple decides to end their marriage, especially when they do so after the age of 50. Not only that, but without careful attention to one’s estate planning during the divorce process, it is common to create confusion and conflict among family members.

While Michigan’s 9% divorce rate is much lower than the national average, this does not make things easier for individual families when a marriage breakup later in life leaves the estate in disarray. Estate planning professionals can add gray divorce to the list of modern changes to the so-called traditional family that can make estate planning a challenge. Other challenges include blended families and the rising cost of long-term health care.

Taking steps to protect one’s estate and minimize conflict among heirs is critical. For many, using a variety of trusts is one way to keep stability in their plans when other factors may be uncertain. Trusts can reduce the time and expense of probate, and they are effective in transferring assets when a family dynamic is potentially volatile.

A critical element of estate planning is addressing any important changes during and after a divorce. This may include one’s heirs, powers of attorney or executor. Even those in Michigan who may not have great wealth risk leaving behind fodder for conflict without a careful plan. They may avoid this by discussing their options with a skilled attorney who has an understanding of the effects a gray divorce can have on an estate plan.