Financial Planning for People Who Get Married Later in Life

Paul FennerPersonal Finance

Financial planning for people who get married later in life tends to be a bit more complicated due to divorce, children, debt, and assets that people who marry younger tend not to have to deal with.  However, anyone who is ready to walk down the aisle needs to pay serious considerations to both lifestyle and finances that can impact both families.  There are a series of discussion points that partners should be having with each other before they say I do and a few basic fundamental planning tools that should be put in order.

Each couple should sit down a put together a detailed listing of all of their assets and liabilities.  Assets would include such items as houses, vehicles, retirement accounts.  Liabilities would include mortgages, credit card debt, student loans.  At the end of this process, you should arrive at your net worth.  Then the next steps involve a series of discussions that you and your partner should have on how these assets and liabilities will be handled in your new life together.  

Conversation Points to Help You Get Started.
  • How do you plan to share expenses and what will be your living arrangements? For example, will you maintain separate banking and investment accounts or open joint accounts? Will you move into one spouse’s home and sell the other?
  • Whose medical insurance will you opt for — your own employer’s plan vs. spousal coverage?
  • How long until each of you qualifies for Medicare, and how will you pay for coverage until then?
  • How do you want your estates to be distributed? For example, how much of your pre-marriage assets should go to children from previous marriages?
Financial Planning items that should be either created or reviewed but definitely not overlooked.
  1. Update legal documents
  2. Prenuptial agreement
  3. Retirement accounts
Other Financial Points to Consider
  • If you were widowed or married at least 10 years before divorcing, you can draw Social Security benefits based on your dead or former spouse’s earnings, if that’s more favorable than your own accumulated benefit. However, if you remarry before age 60 (50, if disabled) that option goes away. See Social Security’s Survivors Benefits for details.
  • It’s important to note that prenups don’t supersede Medicaid rules. The government considers the combined income of both spouses when determining eligibility for receiving Medicaid benefits, including long-term nursing home care. To learn more about your own state’s Medicaid program, follow the links HERE.
  • Alimony payments from ex-spouses will almost certainly end when you remarry, so factor that into your new budget.
  • Widowed spouses of public employees (including military, police, firefighters, and civil servants) often lose some or all of their survivor benefits upon remarriage, so research terms of any survivor annuity or health insurance policies carefully.
  • When a widowed or divorced parent with primary custody remarries, income and assets of the new spouse may count toward the “expected family contribution” used to calculate federal student aid available through grants and subsidized loans for college.

If you are struggling with managing the multiple personal and financial priorities in your family’s life, including a new marriage, schedule a complimentary discovery meeting to see how we may help.