Love has no age limit. You can fall in love when you’re a teenager, in your 20s or 30s or even when in your 60s or 70s. According to one report an estimated 500,000 Americans ages 65 and older remarry every year. And as we continue to live longer and longer, this statistic is almost sure to increase.
Why would older people remarry?
There are a number of older people who get remarried simply on moral grounds – they just don’t feel good about living together in sin”. Of course, there are other couples that simply enjoy the status and privilege that marriage brings. There is research showing that a good marriage offers mental health and physical benefits. People who are unmarried are generally at a greater risk to die at any given point than married people. Maybe love does heal. And it certainly can heal taxes. More than half of all married couples paid less taxes when filing jointly than if they had filed individually.
There is also the fact that we are sexual and social beings over the entire course of our lives. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a teenager or a senior, the excitement and nervousness you feel that comes with dating are very much the same. This can come as a big surprise to older people who unexpectedly find themselves involved in a new relationship.
The advantages of remarrying
While it isn’t really true that two can live as cheaply as one, it is a fact that two people together can live on far less money than two people living apart. There are economies of scale married people enjoy that single people simply cannot equal.
In Social Security and under the majority of pension plans spouses enjoy benefits that unmarried lovers and domestic partners do not have. If one spouse dies, many pension plans include some kind of a benefit that transfers the pension to the surviving partner. However, many of these do not offer the same benefit to a domestic partner.
Not for everyone
Of course, remarrying after the age of 60 isn’t for everyone. It could mean a loss of Social Security benefits or complications having to do with inheritances. As an example of this, if a widow remarries she will no longer be eligible to collect her dead husband’s Social Security benefits. Adult children may object to the marriage due to the fact that they’re worried about their inheritances or maybe they fear that their deceased parent will somehow be forgotten. In some cases, the children may simply not like new person. Personal chemistry can be an issue when someone new is brought into a family. In the event that both people have adult children, this could just complicate the matter. One set of children might see the new wife as loving and wonderful while the other set wishes the husband would just go away. And the adult children of each family may just not like each other or see them as gold diggers.
It’s the same but it’s different
There are many similarities to being married whether you’re 25 or 65. You can take trips together, share hobbies, go to movies together or just enjoy being with the person you love. However, there is one fundamental difference between getting married when you’re young and getting hitched after the age of 60 or 65 – and it’s called your finances.
If you’re in your 20s money isn’t much of an issue for the majority of couples. The most important thing you may need to talk about is your student loan debts. But if you’re 60 or older merging your finances can get complicated. You probably have life insurance and so may your betrothed. The two of you may have separate savings accounts, trust accounts, automobiles, homes, retirement plans and even businesses. You and your intended should have serious talks about your finances though these may not be the most pleasant ones you’ll ever have.
When it comes down to it the both of you need to take into account how you will protect your financial assets. Given the changes that have been made recently to estate tax laws, each of you should take a hard look at the concept of portability to protect his or her individual exemption amounts.
Questions you should ask your future spouse
Again this may not be a pleasant conversation but you need to not only discuss your finances but each partner should provide a detailed analysis of his or her personal finances. You should each explain all of your accrued assets and your retirement plans. You should also have a frank discussion regarding your spending and savings habits.
The harsh fact is that if you’re remarrying and have many assets you need to get a pre-nuptial agreement. It’s valuable and almost essential to have in writing an agreement that protects the each of you.
Make a plan
By their very nature retirement accounts are individual accounts. However, if you are a boomer and get remarried the two of you should immediately draft a plan as to how you will combine your other finances. This needs to include any insurance policies as well as your savings accounts and investments.
Again this is not a pleasant conversation but you need to discuss whether one or both of you had divorce decrees or some court mandated beneficiary relationships. If so, it’s critical that you be aware of this and how it applies to your new marital situation.
Discuss debts and spending habits
It’s also important to sit down and talk about your spending habits and your debts but without starting an argument or being offensive. Your betrothed might be unwilling to discuss current or old debts and his or her spending habits. But this is a very important conversation to have because money issues are often the cause of breakups. If you and your about-to-be-spouse have very different approaches to managing money and how you spend it this can cause tension and serious problems in your relationship. And as painful as it might be you need to be totally honest about past debts so you can resolve any issues together. Don’t keep skeletons in your closet as they will eventually come out and could really hurt the relationship. For example, if it turns out one of you has a bad credit score or had filed for bankruptcy at some point this could prevent you from purchasing a home, a business or from doing something else financially.
Protect your assets
There’s another thing people in their 20s rarely need to worry about and that’s children from a previous marriage. But if you are age 60 or older it’s almost certain that one or both of you have children. You will both probably want to pass on some of your assets to those children. In some cases this can be as simple as having properly designated beneficiaries. In others, you may have to utilize more complicated trusts. However, regardless of the scenario if have assets and want to protect your children you should definitely consult a qualified professional.