This is easily one of the most insightful and timely topics that Attorney Shon Cook has ever brought to the weekly segment here on the Muskegon Channel and to anyone with aging parents or a couple with medical uncertainties in front of them, especially long term and terminal care, it's time to listen.
Greying Divorce? Have you ever even heard of it? The initial thought is empty nesters who stuck it out long enough to get the kids grown up and out and then they throw in the towel to go off and live out their days. Picking up where they left off in their 20's when they tied the knot and raised a family. Thanks for the memories, see you at the soccer field, right? Well, not so fast. A "greying divorce" is nothing to be thought of light heartedly and there is a whole lot of consideration to be put into the terms of a divorce like this to protect a mountain of assets that can be accumulated over a lifetime together.
Legally, marriage is a document the provides legal rights. In your heart and mind, that document is a piece of paper. Let's say you find yourself at the crossroads of life when a partner has to find long term care and needs assistance from Social Security or Medicaid? If there are enough assets in that persons name, those benefits are not allowed. If the assets are all liquidated to help care for the one partner, it leaves the other destitute in order to provide for the care. It's an incredible predicament and most anyone regardless of their economic status needs to know all of the options there are for preparing to protect assets and assure care is provided. This is where the term "greying divorce" comes in.
This requires a team of people, including an Estate Attorney who specializes in understanding the law around Medicaid. It could also involve family members or an advocate for the party who may be in need of long term care provided they can't speak for themselves. Shon is quick to point out that there's an assumption that's made that someone is out to "cheat the system" but the reality is that preparing for the kind of care needed and the future of those who are not in need of the care is a delicate balancing act and financial destitution isn't necessary. A good team can sit down and figure out, almost to the penny what's going to be needed for adequate care to supplement what's covered. Personally, I got a glimpse of how the process works as my grandfather went into assisted living, but I had never quite heard the term "greying divorce".
There's a lot here. Take a listen to this very important conversation on Saturdays With Shon.