A marriage late in life can unravel your estate plans as well as personal finances and any advance directives for your end-of-life health care, according to The Hartford (CT) Courant in its recent article “Fit to Be Tied? Think Twice About Marriage in Your Golden Years.”
There is nothing wrong with seniors marrying but they need to be aware of the impact it may have on their plans. Elder law attorneys advise that those thinking about marriage later in life, at the time when personal wealth is typically the highest, understand the laws on the property rights of both spouses.
Property owned jointly or exclusively by either spouse is deemed to be marital property when it comes to divorce settlement or settling an estate in many states. If you understand the applicable property rights before the marriage, it’ll let you modify your wills, powers of attorney, health care proxies and designated beneficiaries to avoid legal conflicts in the future. Those who marry later in life must face several estate planning issues younger couples don’t. For example, there may be an accumulation of considerable assets or both may have children from earlier relationships.
Marriage is a legal contract between two people that can only be ended by death, annulment or divorce. The laws concerning marriage typically aim to protect the rights and interests of both spouses. One spouse can’t entirely “disinherit" their surviving spouse, regardless of what he or she writes in a will. Under the law of some states, a surviving spouse is entitled to the income generated from a third of their late spouse’s estate for the rest of their life after all its liabilities are settled.
An elder law attorney or estate planning attorney could be helpful for planning should you decide to start over in later years.
Reference: The Hartford (CT) Courant (Sept. 24, 2016) “Fit to Be Tied? Think Twice About Marriage in Your Golden Years”