While many studies still show many couples decide against marriage after age 50, many still do. When you legally get married, many financial issues must be considered. So while Lennon and McCartney sang, "All You Need Is Love," the reality is you need to consider many matters other than just love.
The issues to consider are numerous. You should review items like long term health care, your assets and estate, and the impact of your new marriage on your children, your real estate, and social security. Other items need to be considered before you say, "I do."
In Sickness and in Health
The concern about long-term health care may be the number one concern since so many adults over 50 will need, at some point, help with activities of daily living or supervision due to a memory issue. Many people will think this won't happen to them or will only occur when they are much older. They would be wrong on both counts. Plus, health insurance and later, Medicare(and MedicareSupplements) will not pay for most of these costs.
The fifties are named the "fragile 50s" for a reason. Your body starts to change. Your health starts to decline as many people will be diagnosed with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, declines in bone density, and heart disease. Many people in their fifties also see weight gain, added fatigue, and loss of muscle strength.
The fact is as you get older, you will see more changes in your health, body, and mind. These challenges will have a tremendous impact on both your family and finances. When you add the dynamic of a blended family, you can see that you should discuss how you will address the financial costs and burdens of aging.
The blended family may have different feelings about how future long-term health care will be handled when the time comes. When there is no advance plan, it creates a crisis within the family. Even close families have conflict. How will the new blended family think about these issues when no advance directive is provided?
Long-Term Care is Expensive
The problem of long-term health care is both a cash flow issue as well as a family issue. The costs of long-term care can dramatically impact income and lifestyle, not to mention legacy. The LTC NEWS Cost of Care Calculator shows you both the current and future cost of extended care services where you live.
Don't depend on your new spouse or your adult children to provide care. They are not prepared for the role of being a caregiver, and it creates tremendous stress on the caregiver's health, career, and family.
New Spouses are Responsible for Each Other's Care
In many states, spouses are responsible for each other's medical and long-term care bills. Many adults over 50 will decide not to get married and just live together for this reason – assuming they are aware.
Staying single allows you and your partner to qualify individually for Medicaid, the medical welfare program, without draining the other person's assets. However, you still must 'spend-down' your assets to qualify. As a single, in most states, this means spending down to $2000. If either partner has any savings and investments, this makes no sense.
Once married, no matter how you decide the separate your assets, in the eyes of the law, your savings are together, and you are each responsible for the other's future care.
Long-Term Care Insurance - Great Marriage Gift
So if you are getting married, you should consider purchasing Long-Term Care Insurance, assuming you both don't have a policy in place already. If you decide to cohabitate, having a policy will still protect that person's assets and reduce the burden on your partner and their adult children and their families.
Generally, Long-Term Care Insurance is very affordable if purchased when you are younger and more healthy. Discounts are available for couples. Even small plans will reduce the stress otherwise placed on the rest of the family.
Some insurance companies will even give a discount if you are not married, but you live together and share expenses.
"Nearly 40 percent of buyers were age 54 or younger, compared to 29 percent who purchased in 2012. Buying younger makes sense because premiums are less expensive, and several leading insurers now offer some very attractive options that allow you to increase coverage in future years, even if your health has changed, said Jesse Slome, American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance (AALTCI).
Some companies also offer shared benefits for spouses or partners, which may be attractive if you and your new spouse are both looking for coverage.
Jane Bryant Quinn, author and a personal financial expert says that some protections are still available even if you don't get married.
Perhaps Living Together is a Solution?
"A "living together" agreement, legally signed and notarized, provides for the division of property if you break up. A will can provide a partner with financial support. You can designate your partner as your health care advocate if that's your choice," she said.
Your estate plan is impacted directly when you get remarried. Even if your will leaves everything to children and grandchildren, in most states, spouses are automatically entitled to a share of your estate -- usually one-third to one-half.
If you don't want to leave a third or more of your assets to your new partner, get a prenuptial agreement. If you want to leave something to your spouse and ensure your heirs receive their inheritance, a trust may be the best option. Consult an attorney for details.
If you were never married, this would be less a concern but could be a concern for your new partner if they have had children in a previous marriage.
Issues with Real Estate
Real estate is also an issue. If you're planning on living in a house one or the other owns, you need to think about what will happen to the house when the owner dies.
If, for example, you both decide to live in your home, but you want your kids to inherit the house after you die, putting the house in both names is not an option. However, you may also not want your heirs to evict them once you die. One solution is for you to give your surviving spouse a life estate, which provides them with the right to live in your property during their lifetime. Upon death, the house will pass to heirs.
Remarriage can also affect the benefits of many divorced or widowed seniors (especially women) who receive Social Security from their former spouses. For instance, getting remarried stops a divorced spouse's benefits. And getting remarried before age 60 (50 if you are disabled) will cause widows and widowers to lose the right to survivors benefits from their former spouse. Remarrying at 60 or older, however, does not affect the survivors' benefit.
If love is in the air, you better consider the impact it will have on the rest of your life. Take these issues into consideration, and with advance planning, your love will live on without creating stress and anxiety for the entire blended family.
When is the best time to plan for the financial costs and burdens of aging? Generally, experts suggest before your retirement, ideally in your 40s or 50s, when premiums are low, and you have the most available options to choose from. However, if you re-marry at an older age, you still can obtain Long-Term Care Insurance if you enjoy good health.
Be careful. While Long-Term Care Insurance is affordable, premiums can vary dramatically between companies for the same coverage. Not all insurance agents or financial advisors work with more than one or two companies, nor do they usually understand underwriting, policy features, partnership programs, case management, and claims.
Use the Available Tools on LTC NEWS
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The financial costs and burdens of aging are always a concern. When you get married again later in life, you face many challenges.
Affordable Long-Term Care Insurance will address many of these challenges. It will provide you with access to your choice of quality care, reducing the stress otherwise placed on your family.
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