Whether you’re thinking of getting married for the first time or the fifth, marriage in your senior years looks quite different from marriage in your 20s.
For one thing, you’re a lot more mature than younger engaged couples and newlyweds. You’ve probably got more experience in resolving conflict, compromise, and respecting boundaries - all of which can be quite helpful in a marriage.
On the other hand, however, you’ve also got a full lifetime of habits, needs, interests, and money management techniques built up. Chances are, your intended does too. How do you go about combining your lives without stepping on each other’s toes?
This is a highly important thing to consider, especially if you’re retired or about to retire. Not only will you be combining finances at a sensitive time in your lives, but you’ll also be spending a whole lot of time together. Here are a few things to think about when you’re considering marrying in your later years.
Remarrying can change your Social Security benefits
Social Security is an important part of most seniors’ income, and the regularity of those benefit checks can provide great peace of mind for retirees who don’t receive paychecks anymore.
So if those benefits change, it can have financial repercussions throughout much of your budget. This can happen if you marry someone who has a lesser income than your spouse did.
Here’s how it works. Divorced couples are entitled to spousal benefits based on their ex-spouse’s work history, as long as they were married for 10 years or more.
Once you remarry, however, you can still claim spousal benefits - but only for your new spouse. If he or she makes less than your ex-spouse did, then you’ll see your benefits shrink. This is one reason some older couples decide simply to cohabitate, rather than remarry.
Estate planning can get complicated
If you’ve got an ex-spouse whom you were married to for a long time, as well as children from that marriage, you probably made provisions for their maintenance or inheritance in your will.
Once you remarry, you and your new spouse could each have two families that you want to include in your wills. That means re-assessing how your property is divided - and that can get sticky.
This is one reason experts recommend that remarried couples have separate wills, so they can make these intensely emotional decisions based on their own wishes.
However, that doesn’t mean that your will should be a secret from your new partner. On the contrary, openness during your estate planning is essential if you want to prevent both your new and ex-spouse from experiencing nasty surprises once you’ve passed.
Remember to change your beneficiaries
According to USA Today, one of the biggest mistakes you can make after getting remarried is forgetting to change your beneficiaries. As you can imagine, this can create terrible legal headaches for the people you love, and even tear families apart.
When you remarry, remember to look at everything from your will to your life insurance policy and make whatever changes you deem necessary.
If you kept your life insurance policy after your divorce, you may want to reevaluate its value as an asset in your new situation. Many people find that they no longer need these policies, or that the cost of the premiums outweigh the value they provide.
If that’s the case, you may want to consider a life settlement, which allows you to work with a life settlement broker and your financial advisor to sell the policy on the secondary market. You’ll get a lump sum many times greater than the cash surrender value, which can be used for anything - it’s your money, after all.
Remarriage can bring joy and happiness to our golden years - but it’s important to prepare for the ways that it can change your financial status, especially if you’re retired or nearing retirement. For more resources on finances and retirement, take a look at our blog series on this stage of life.