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How property division can impact retirement planning

Moving through a divorce can be a challenging time for many Maryland residents. For those who are also nearing retirement, the process can be even more stressful. With fewer years left to absorb financial losses, property division becomes a critical component of transitioning from married to divorced.

One of the biggest challenges facing spouses over the age of 50 is determining what to do with the family home. Many people are incredibly attached to their home, especially if they have raised kids there or spent considerable time and effort improving the property. With all of the change that comes with a divorce, many people want to cling firm to their home, and will trade off more liquid assets to gain the right to remain in the home once the divorce is made final. That move, however, may be in direct opposition to one's best interests.

Keeping the family home is a risky proposition. For one thing, all houses require maintenance and periodic repair, which can bring about unexpected expense. In addition, the real estate market goes up and down, and not always in predictable patterns. That can leave a homeowner with most of his or her wealth tied up in an asset that is not easy to liquidate, and that has an ever-changing value.

While it may be a bitter pill to swallow, it is often advisable to sell the family home and divide the equity during property division. That allows both spouses the ability to find a new housing situation that is in line with their new financial needs. For those in Maryland who are nearing retirement, it also allows people to have more money to put toward retirement funding, which should be a top priority.

Source: Forbes, "How To Survive Divorce After 50", Tania Brown, Sept. 29, 2016

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