Getting married is a time of joy and celebration for the happy couple. But is it as happy when you are well into your years (50 years or older)? Of course it is from the romantic side and all the joy that one may be getting from having a lifetime companion. But is it from other aspects? Maybe not quite such an easy answer…
When couples get married later in life, there are many new issues that have to be dealt with and that the law sees quite differently than when you are young. The issues aren’t the same regardless of your age unfortunately. There may be earlier marriages (usually each couple has been married at least once) to deal with or children from an earlier marriage (or multiple marriages) that enter into the equation. Things just add up over time.
I am certainly not advising against getting married at an older age, just suggesting you enter into this with an open mind and deal with all of these potential issues BEFORE tying the knot. There are several areas I would encourage you to evaluate and decide upon somewhere along the path of courtship. And if you are one of the children of an older couple looking to get married, this would be a very helpful article to share with them as well.
While I can’t provide a complete list of everything that you might need to consider since every situation is different, I want to share some of the key areas I would encourage you to think about, discuss, and create some plans around prior to signing the marriage certificate. Here’s a list to get started with…
- PRENUPTIAL AGREEMENT…While these have had a very negative connotation over the years, mainly from big celebrities marrying those with much fewer resources, there are some very positive and practical aspects to having a prenuptial agreement in place prior to getting married. I wrote a quite extensive article on just this topic that you might want to reference for more details on how to think about a prenuptial agreement. The article, “To “Prenup” or Not “Prenup”…Experts Advice that might Change your Thinking”, talks about some of the pros and cons to prenuptial agreements. The article lists 3 primary areas to consider when constructing a Prenuptial Agreement: 1) Boundaries; 2) Power; and 3) Giving and Receiving. I also cover some tips on how to go about writing such an agreement and some other areas to consider when putting this together. It can be a very positive experience and one that will actually strengthen the marriage when approached more “strategically” rather than just creating a “document.”
- FINANCIAL CONSIDERATIONS…Since you are well into your earning years (maybe past them), either both of you or at least one of you most likely has acquired some financial assets. These are not all treated the same way and so it is very important to understand which ones should be handled in some special ways. In addition, there are other areas to explore such as Social Security and Retirement Plans that might be in place at the time of your impending marriage. These are also handled in certain ways to give you and your spouse the most protection and limit your tax liabilities.
- CURRENT ESTATE PLAN OR WILL…By this stage in life, you should most definitely have something in place that will carry out your wishes in case something should happen to you. Above any of the other items, if you don’t have an Estate Strategy in place, this is the first place to start to map out exactly what your wishes are and how they will be executed. As I tell most people who don’t have one in place, “The best time to do this would have been yesterday…but since it didn’t get done then, TODAY is the next best day to take care of it.” Sitting down and talking through your wishes and those of your impending spouse will help to craft a “customized” Strategy for you that can incorporate all these areas of concern or issues for you. This may be the best use of time you will spend if you truly want to plan everything out for your benefit and the benefit of others. It can also be an incredibly powerful way to eliminate many unnecessary taxes that you could potentially incur.
- LONG-TERM CARE…This is always a key area for those looking to get married later in life because there are certain areas of both responsibility and economic impact that need to be taken into consideration. For example, because you are married, much of the responsibility for care (financially and time) become incumbent upon the other spouse to provide…regardless of how the assets are divided prior to the marriage. There are some interesting aspects with Long-term Care that need to be understood and discussed prior to matrimony. Some of these issues could be a deal breaker financially for a couple and could cause them to not get married for this one area and the financial impact it could have on the other spouse. Having Long-Term Care Insurance is one of the ways that could help a couple prior to marriage if it is put in place and planned out in advance.
- DIVORCE…I saved the worst for last…Divorce. The ugly “D” word in any marriage. Unfortunately, it can happen at any stage of life. It might have some significant impact on one or both of the spouses and so it needs to be addressed before they are married. As I mentioned above in #3, a key way to handle this up front is to have an Estate Strategy in place where these issues are discussed and addressed to the satisfaction of both potential spouses. Having an in-depth conversation about this in advance is a great way to make sure you are both on the same page with expectations prior to marriage and after you are married. Many of the issues that can cause this to occur can be positively addressed and documented so there are no surprises…which is the number one cause of most divorces.
While there are certainly more issues to consider, these are the ones that bubble to the top of the list when I have a chance to talk to a couple getting married later in life. I would highly recommend an introductory meeting to at least discuss these topics before you decide anything. Then you can determine if it makes sense to move forward with the marriage. If you want to Request a Meeting to discuss your own personal, just let me know. You can always Ask Me a Question as well if you have something you need to know about…I’m happy to give you some insights and thoughts…without any charge to you. As with everything worth doing, investing the time up front can save a lot of pain, financial hardships, and remorse later…and give you a much stronger chance at making your marriage a phenomenal success!