We love a happy ending, so we are always glad to learn about people finding love and getting married again after divorce. But when you’re older, you need to be wiser about the business side of marriage.
At one time this was unthinkable, but the number of divorces for people over age 50 is on the rise. Another new trend, a little more encouraging, is that remarriages for people over 55 are also on the rise.
Forbes’ recent article, “What You Should Know Before Remarrying,” cautions that you’re no longer the 20-something with just your hopes and dreams entering into a marriage. Now you’re apt to be a person who’s built a career, a family, and wealth over a lifetime. As you get older, you now see that there are other considerations when entering into marriage again.
Finances: You should have a money conversation with your future partner, and check each other’s credit report to discuss plans to handle any negative credit information or debt. Talk about each other’s budgets, current obligations, and promised obligations in the future like a college education for children or grandchildren, supporting kids or other relatives, paying alimony and caring for elderly parents.
Children: Get ready for the many emotions your children may experience. If necessary, seek a family counselor who has experience with blended families and step-parenting issues.
Assets: You and your future spouse both will have had years to accumulate substantial assets and your kids may have thoughts on what happens with those assets if you divorce or pass away. Speak with an experienced estate planning attorney to be certain your assets are divided in accordance to your expectations. One option is a prenuptial agreement that says exactly what happens to your assets in the event of divorce or death, and may ease any worries of your offspring that they won’t be left out of an inheritance. There’s also a Qualified Terminable Interest Property or “QTIP” to consider. You can set this up to pay a second spouse the income from investments and let him or her live in the home you may have owned with your ex-spouse until the second spouse passes away. And you can make it so the second spouse won’t be able to sell the assets. Once the second spouse passes, your children can be named as the final beneficiaries.
Income: Look at your respective cash flow to determine how it may change if you marry. If you’re receiving a pension from a spouse due to divorce or death, ask the company’s HR department to see if your pension changes if you remarry. If you’re a widow or an ex-spouse eligible for a survivor's Social Security benefit, you may become ineligible if you remarry before age 60. At that point, typically you can remarry and still be eligible for the benefit. If you are receiving retirement Social Security on your ex-spouse’s record, a remarriage can stop your eligibility for the benefit; however, you may be eligible for your current spouse’s benefit.
Aging and Health: As we age, we are more likely to face serious health issues or develop illnesses like diabetes or heart disease. It’s only fair to discuss past and current health histories, including those of your parents and grandparents, with your future spouse, as these may impact your financial situation. Both of you need to take a close look at your healthcare coverage, retiree healthcare plans and health savings accounts (HSAs) so that you’ll know what’s ahead. Don’t forget long term care insurance.
Yes, it’s far more fun to plan a second honeymoon and decorate a new home, but these discussions will help you both of you as you build a new life together.
Reference: Forbes (October 16, 2016) “What You Should Know Before Remarrying”