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Clarity Financial Planning Services is an advocate for your financial future who takes a holistic approach to your needs and goals.

Estate Planning and Late-in-Life Marriage, pt. 1

Happy Senior examines the pros and cons of getting married later in life, citing statistics from the Journal of Marriage and Family which found that more than twice as many adults over 50 started cohabitating in the first decade of the 21st century. Depending on your situation, a late-in-life marriage may or may not be beneficial. The article does not consider convention or social pressure to marry but sticks to the financial considerations. Among them:

Benefits: If you were married before and get Social Security benefits or an annuity from a former or deceased spouse’s earnings, you might not want to lose those. You should also know that there are states that seek to end alimony when someone begins to cohabitate.

Healthcare: As a married person, you are expected to pay your spouse’s medical debts.

Taxes: The tax code is complicated and ever changing. In some instances, the unmarried have the advantage (paying less on Social Security benefits, for example) and in other cases, such as selling a home, a married couple may be able to exclude more capital gains.

Children and Estate Planning: Children are a key reason many couples decide not to marry. We know of a couple of elderly lovebirds who did not marry because her children refused to let them do so for fear they’d be stuck with her ailing husband if she died. Some people seek advice and find it is easier for estate planning if they do not remarry; they can pass their assets directly to their children. (If you didn’t know, “Many states have “elective share” laws that require that a specific percentage of your estate go to your spouse, even if your will states otherwise…”) also points out some situations where remarriage with children can be beneficial: if you and your new spouse both have children who are not yet college-age, “…marriage could increase the size of the household and the number of children in college, which could increase eligibility for financial aid.”

Next week we’ll discuss some estate planning strategies for those who find love later in life.