What to Ponder Before Remarrying Later in Life
Getting remarried later in life can bring about a host of financial and legal issues that are much more complicated than they are for younger couples just starting out. Here are some common problem areas you need to think about, and some tips that can help you solve them.
Estate plan: Getting remarried can have a big impact on your estate plan. Even if your will leaves everything to your kids, in most states, spouses are automatically entitled to a share of your estate – usually one-third to one-half. If you do not want to leave a third or more of your assets to your new partner, choose to have an attorney draft a prenuptial agreement where you both agree not to take anything from the other's estate. If you want to leave something to your spouse and ensure your heirs receive their inheritance, you may consider speaking with an attorney to set up a trust.
Medical and long-term care: As a married couple, you and your spouse will be responsible for each other's medical and long-term care bills. Remaining unmarried will not impact your eligibility for public benefits, such as Medicaid (which pays nursing home costs). If you choose to remarry and can afford it, consider getting a long-term care insurance policy to protect your assets. See AALTCI.org to help you find one.
Home: If you are planning on living in your house, you need to think about what will happen to the house when you pass away. For example, if you both decide to live in your home, but you want your kids to inherit the place, putting the house in both of your names is not a wise option. However, you may also not want your heirs to evict your husband once you die. One solution is for you to give him a life estate. This will allow your husband the right to live on your property during his lifetime. Once he dies, the house will pass to your heirs.
Social Security: Getting remarried can also affect your Social Security benefits if you are divorced, widowed or are receiving SSI. For instance, getting remarried makes you ineligible for divorced spouse's benefits. Getting remarried before age 60 (50 if you are disabled) will cause widows and widowers to lose their right to survivor's benefits from their former spouse. For more information, see SSA.gov.
Pension benefits: Be aware that if you are receiving a survivor's annuity from a public employee's pension, getting remarried may cause you to lose it. In addition, widows and widowers of military personnel killed in the line of duty may lose their benefits if they remarry before age 57. Survivors of federal civil servants that receive a pension will forfeit it if they remarry before age 55.
Alimony: If you are receiving alimony from an ex-spouse, it will almost certainly end if you remarry.
College aid: If you have any children in college receiving financial aid, getting married and adding a new spouse's income to the family could affect your children's financial aid.
To get help with these issues, consider hiring an estate planning attorney who can draw up a plan to protect both you and your partner's interests.
Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living" book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization's official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.