Seniors, money and marriage. Sounds like a loaded issue. And for many seniors, marrying again late in life is the last thing they expect to do. But it happens more frequently than you’d think. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, among men and women 60 to 69 years old, 23 percent had married twice. Among those ages 70 or older, 22 percent of men and 19 percent of women had married twice. Eight 8 percent of men and 6 percent of women had married three times or more.
Finding love the second (or third) time around can add tremendous joy to your golden years. But unlike when you married in your 20s or 30s, you and your intended are coming into the union with a lot of life experience. You’ll need to make some practical financial decisions that will impact the rest of your lives together.
If you’re planning to tie the knot as a senior, we have some tips to ensure your future marriage won’t hit a rocky road down the line.
One of the most important things you should do well in advance of the big day is discuss each other’s finances and financial style. Are you both spenders or savers? Maybe one of you likes to drive the latest car while the other wants to keep the old Buick until the wheels fall off. Having an open discussion about your money philosophy is imperative and can prevent a lot of heartache down the road.
What assets and liabilities are each of you bringing to the marriage? As a senior, it’s very possible you have more real estate holdings, investments and other assets than younger people. You might have more financial baggage, too. It’s essential to be open about your financial positions with each other.
Be sure to discuss all relevant information concerning assets, credit card and other debt, divorce agreements, credit reports, credit history, etc. If you or your fiancé is carrying significant debt or has poor credit, it will impact your ability to purchase a home together, buy a new car, travel or do other things that require a big investment.
You also need to talk about whether you want to merge your finances or keep them separate. Younger couples tend to find it easier to combine their money. On the other hand, older adults may be used to managing their own affairs, making it challenging to compromise.
Plan for Long-Term Care
Marrying in your golden years means you or your spouse may end up needing long-term care. And that can get really expensive. If you don’t have high net worth or long-term health care insurance, you’ll need to plan for covering the costs should the day come. Medicare usually pays very little of your long-term care costs. Moreover, qualifying for Medicaid if you and your spouse have considerable assets collectively may be difficult.
Seniors, Money and Marriage: Importance of Having An Estate Plan
If you’ve established an estate plan, getting married can cut your new spouse into your inheritance rights. Much depends on the state where you live. Take the time to have an attorney who specializes in estate planning review your current plan and make revisions as needed. For example, you’ll need to confirm that your assets will be distributed as you wish upon death. This is especially critical if you want to leave money or items to children from a previous marriage or other close relatives.
Or you may decide to create a joint trust with your new spouse. In that case, numerous decisions will need to be made. For starters, the trust will need to include such legal instructions as who will act as your power of attorney if you become incapacitated. Advanced health directives outlining instructions for your future care are also critical components of the estate plan.
Feeling Entrepreneurial? Start a Business Together
Do you and your fiancé share a hobby or interest? By launching a business in a field both of you enjoy, you can spend quality time together while financing dream vacations, major purchases or even charitable giving.
New business ideas include:
- Nutrition coaching or consulting
- Handcrafts online store
- Food catering or other food business
- Fitness training for seniors
- Teaching how to develop online courses
No matter what kind of business you start, you’ll need a solid business plan and legal structure in place, both of which will help you secure funding if you need startup capital. You’ll also need to promote your brand through an impactful marketing strategy.
When it comes to seniors, money and marriage, it’s best to be forthright with your loved one no matter what your current financial position and future needs might be. Don’t let a romantic haze prevent you from discussing key financial issues before they become folded into marriage. Talk openly and iron out any differences about money and marriage. We hope the tips above will help you set the stage for a lasting, loving relationship with your new partner.
Thank you to Mary Shannon for contributing this article. You can reach Mary at firstname.lastname@example.org.