Getting married is a big step for any couple to take. Typically, when we think of the important factors of marriage, we relate it to a young couple finding compatibility, having children and reaching life goals together. Finding love later in life - after having children, reaching certain life goals and already having assets acquired - has a completely different set of criteria.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 18 million U.S. adults are in non-married, cohabitating relationships and 23% of those are adults over the age of 50. This age group has seen the largest percentage increase of cohabitation since 2007, increasing by 75%. (For related reading, see: How Social Security Survivor Benefits Work.)
This trend may very well be attributable to the societal acceptance of cohabitation now as compared to a few decades ago, but also to the concerns and complications encountered by remarrying later in life. To help you decide whether or not to tie the knot again, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of remarrying later in life.
Happiness: Perhaps you weren’t looking for someone or even expected to find someone later in life but if you do, it can definitely be good for your general well being. Having someone to share daily life, holidays and vacations with can surely add to your overall happiness.
Financial Independence: You’ve heard the saying before, “Two paychecks are better than one.” Well that is true, especially for folks during their retirement years who are typically on fixed incomes. If you became widowed, not only did your suffer the loss of your spouse, but you probably suffered a financial loss as well. Whether your husband was still working and bringing in an active income or receiving a pension or Social Security income, your new financial situation may be much lower. Not only can finding someone later in life bring some happiness to your retirement years, but it can also bring some financial stability.
Estate Planning: Even if you have a will or trust in place for your assets to go to your children from a previous marriage, some states have laws requiring a portion of your assets go to a surviving spouse (unless the surviving spouse waives that right).
But actually being married isn’t the only thing that can complicate a relationship during your golden years. If you have chosen not to remarry for estate planning purposes but are living with your significant other, there can still be complications when one partner passes away. Depending on the living arrangement, if the one who passes was the homeowner, you could be left out in the streets once the asset passes to the heirs. Of course any home that was obtained together, with a joint rights of survivorship deed, would allow your spouse to remain in the home. (For more from this author, see: Social Security Benefits for Widows and Divorcees.)
Another possible solution for the cohabiting couple would be to title the house as a life estate, which would allow the surviving partner to live there until they die and then the heirs inherit the house.
Loss of Benefits
If you are a widow, you may be receiving certain pension or Social Security benefits after your husband passed away. Should you choose to remarry, those benefits would possibly be reduced or go away altogether. Depending on other sources of income that you have in place, this is a big consideration to make before tying the knot again. However, if you are older than the age of 60 or are receiving Social Security based off your own work record, then your Social Security benefit would remain unchanged.
There are a few ways that healthcare can be affected by remarriage. If you already qualify for Medicaid, your new spouse’s assets could affect your ability to still qualify if you choose to remarry. Or, if you were married at the time that your spouse passed away, you probably were able to retain your coverage under that plan. Remarriage could make you ineligible to keep that coverage.
Whether you decide to remarry later in life or not, it is important to meet with your financial advisor and attorney to discuss estate and financial planning, as cohabitating can also have an impact on your situation as well. While it is not the most romantic thing to do when you are in love, it could possibly save you heartache in the end by knowing what steps you need to take in order to protect your assets and understanding your options. (For more from this author, see: 7 Financial Tips for Women Preparing for Divorce.)