By Melissa King, clarkhoward.com
By the time you are half way to 100, you have probably learned a thing or two about life, love, and money. If you plan on tying the knot after you’ve reached this milestone, your checklist will likely look very different from a young couple who is fresh out of college or in their late 20s. Twenty-five more years of experience and assets (or lack thereof) can make things slightly more complicated when it comes to combining your finances following the chaos of wedding planning and matrimonial bliss.
Here are 5 things you need to know when tying the knot later in life
1. First and foremost, it is imperative that you are open and honest about your financial past with your significant other, especially if you have not made the most responsible decisions when it comes to your money. People who are older than 50 have less time to make repairs and plan ahead for possible retirement. For that reason, it’s not fair to keep secrets from your spouse about poor credit or unpaid debts.
2. Similarly, when it comes to past financial decisions, if either individual in the relationship has a drastically lower credit score than the other, it may not always be best to apply for loans jointly as this can result in higher interest rates. Obtain accurate credit reports from both parties so you can realistically assess your situation and determine which financial strategies are most appropriate.
3. Social Security is a very important topic for individuals who are near or in the second half of their lifespan. Be sure to research your local laws and regulations regarding spousal benefits. If the recipient remarries, he or she will no longer be able to collect Social Security from their ex-spouse’s work record. Upon remarrying, they will also have to remain married for at least one year in order to qualify for Social Security benefits on the new spouse’s work record. For widows and widowers, remarrying before the age of 60 will nullify Social Security survivor benefits from the first spouse, however waiting until 60 or older can preserve these benefits.
4. Older couples who are planning to get married should also consider consulting an estate planner. These experienced professionals can provide state specific suggestions for establishing trust accounts and designating beneficiaries, as well as help couples to determine the most beneficial ways to handle filing their taxes and managing their finances from a joint perspective. You might also consider establishing a financial power of attorney so your assets are protected in the event you are unable to make decisions concerning your money.
5. If you are older than 50 and plan on getting married soon, it is absolutely imperative that you discuss your health care wishes with your loved ones, including your children. Establish a health care power of attorney in the event that you are unable to make conscious decisions regarding your health care. Discuss your preferences for long term care and whether or not you have insurance or savings to cover these costs. Although rates will vary depending on your location and health report, married couples tend to find better rates as compared to individual plans.