Finding love and companionship again after divorce or the death of a spouse — or even finding love for the first time — is reason to celebrate.
For many people who get married after the age of 50, it will not be their first trip down the aisle. Forty-two million Americans have been married more than once. Plus, 50 percent of people over 65 who get married are not first-timers. And with matrimony comes change. Each person is bringing his or her respective families, histories and finances together. Here are some considerations to help keep that blending as seamless as possible, in sickness and health, and ’til death do you part.
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Combining and sharing finances
Older couples who wed are probably less inclined to combine all their assets the way many young couples will. They likely have individual retirement accounts and investment accounts, own real estate or a business, or have received alimony or a family inheritance. They may even be carrying liabilities, such as loans or a mortgage, that a soon-to-be spouse is not a party to.
Full financial disclosure is beneficial in determining which finances to combine and which you want to (or need to) keep separated. Circle in your financial and tax advisers to let them know of your plans and to get their advice.
Decisions also have to be made about sharing expenses, as well as who will be responsible for payments of those expenses, and for how long. So, as soon as possible and, ideally, before the wedding, reach a written agreement about how debts and assets are to be separated or shared, not just during your marriage but also in case of divorce or death.
To prenup or not to prenup
A prenuptial (or “premarital”) agreement can be a useful tool to clarify a couple’s expectations and understanding about how their finances will be retained or split should they split up. Although few get engaged while anticipating a future divorce, the reality is that the rates of these splits are much higher for second (or subsequent) marriages than for first-time marriages. Those who have been through divorces may not want to repeat experiences of the past and may be more open-minded about having a premarital agreement drawn up; regardless, it’s a worthy exercise for most couples.