If you’re unhappy in your marriage but your finances are great following retirement, you might feel like it’s a great opportunity if you can live separately but not divorce your spouse. You may have all the opportunities to meet other people and live a separate life but still benefit from your retirement income or other benefits.
What some people don’t recognize, however, is that remaining legally married can have unwanted negative consequences that you don’t expect.
What kinds of problems can you run into if you’re married but separated?
If you end up needing to go on Medicaid, your marital status could be a problem. For example, if you need to seek Medicaid to cover nursing home costs after a serious injury, you may find that your estranged spouse’s income now applies to your application. Since you didn’t divorce, your lower income, or lack of one altogether, will just be added to theirs.
This is problematic because those assets will need to be spent down before you can qualify for Medicaid.
Another problem can happen if you’re married but separated and one of you dies. A portion of your assets would go to your spouse — even if that’s not part of your intentions. This is true even though you’ve been separated because they are the surviving spouse recognized by law.
Getting a divorce can be troubling, but it may be for the best in old age
Although going through a gray divorce can be troubling and upset years of marriage, the reality is that not divorcing can cause problems in the future. If you separate your assets now and work on building an estate plan to address your newly found independence, you may be in a better position if you or your ex ever fall ill.