Are you in a happily committed relationship and thinking about tying the knot? Whether you’re widowed, divorced, or never married, getting married later in life is different than in your 20s and 30s. On one hand, you’re financially established and know what you want. On the other hand, merging lives and finances is more complicated when you’re older.
What should couples consider when getting married in their 50s, 60s, and beyond? CrownPointe Communities provides some guidance.
Older couples are more likely to have significant assets and financial obligations like child support and alimony. This makes it harder to merge finances, especially if there’s a big income gap or different spending and saving habits. It’s important to be completely transparent about finances and discuss how you’ll approach both everyday expenses and long-term financial goals as a couple.
If one or both spouses owns a business, make sure you understand how marriage could affect your business. Even if you already own your business, growth that occurs during the marriage may be considered marital property. A well-drafted prenuptial agreement can protect your business in a divorce settlement.
Some older adults start businesses together in retirement. Side businesses like consulting, pet sitting, or running an Airbnb are flexible while offering extra income and a shared hobby in retirement. However, it’s important to choose your business structure carefully. Establishing your business as an LLC protects retirement savings from business liabilities and provides a framework for resolving conflicts.
If you and your partner decide to start a business, set up a marketing plan to drum up business. Although social media can sound intimidating, there are plenty of free tools to help. You can design a Facebook ad by selecting one of many beautiful templates and then customizing it for your business. It’s best to include your logo and brand colors for consistency. Keep your message short, too, and redirect people to your website or Facebook page.
Pensions and IRAs
Married couples are able to inherit a deceased spouse’s IRA and pension benefits. Unmarried couples, however, aren’t eligible for any of a partner’s pension benefits. When it comes to IRAs, unmarried couples have the option to transfer to an inherited IRA but this move comes with significant tax consequences.
Social Security and Retirement Benefits
Getting married gives retirees flexibility when it comes to Social Security retirement benefits. A married spouse can claim half of their spouse’s retirement benefit at full retirement age if it’s more than their own or take a reduced amount based on their spouse’s benefit as early as 62. When one spouse passes away, the surviving spouse may claim the larger benefit.
Widows and widowers should tread carefully when getting remarried, however. Widows and widowers may forfeit Social Security benefits if they remarry before turning 60. Divorcees collecting on a deceased ex-spouse’s benefits forfeit payments if they remarry at any age.
Don’t forget to update wills and beneficiaries on life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and other investment accounts when partnering up late in life. You’ll also want to update powers of attorney for health care and finances along with your health care directive or living will. Trusts are useful for couples getting married for a second time. You can set up a separate marital trust to leave assets to your spouse without impacting your children’s inheritance.
Married couples are responsible for their spouse’s medical debts. Since Medicare doesn’t cover most long-term care, consider how you’ll pay if one or both of you needs a nursing home, assisted living, or in-home help. Long-term care insurance covers expenses not paid by health insurance but premiums are pricey for adults over 60. Alternatives to long-term care insurance include income annuities and hybrid life insurance policies. Seniors who intend to use Medicaid to pay for long-term care services should take steps now to protect their homes from estate recovery.
You should also discuss where you plan to live as you age. For example, would you like to modify your home to age in place, or take advantage of a facility like CrownPointe Facilities that offer a continuum of care depending on you and your spouse’s needs? Although plans may change, it’s important to discuss your options together to ensure you’re on the same page.
It’s never too late to say “I do,” but there are important things to consider before walking down the aisle. Understand the financial impacts of getting married late in life and ask yourself if marriage is the best choice for your financial future. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer so talk to a financial professional if you need help understanding the pros and cons of marriage for older adults. And don’t forget to discuss your ideal living arrangements as you age, and consider CrownPointe Communities as a way to maintain consistency as your care requirements change.