Marrying After 50

Marriage after age 50 is a wonderful thing, but it has some financial challenges, too. There is plenty to take into account, and plenty of money myths, if you plan to tie the knot in midlife — especially if your spouse-to-be has children from a first marriage.

Here are six common myths:

 

Myth No. 1: Prenups Are Only for the Rich and Famous

Actually, if you’ve been married before and have children from a previous relationship, a prenuptial agreement is essential to ensuring that property will pass to children from the prior marriage, says Christine M. Searle, certified internal auditor and owner of Searle Business Solutions in Arlington, Va.

And, she says, even if you’re getting married for the first time, chances are you’ve accumulated significant assets by this point in your life (and perhaps even some debt). So you’ll need to plan how to handle those if, sadly, this marriage doesn’t work out.

Estate planning is essential if you have children from an earlier marriage. Otherwise, your entire estate could pass to your new spouse.

Don’t think of a prenup as prearranging your divorce, Searle says, but more like writing your will. “If you don’t have certain things arranged,” she says, “the state gets to make decisions for you and that’s like dying without a will.”

After 50, the focus of a prenuptial agreement should be on protecting your children and grandchildren. “The context of a prenuptial should be how to do we provide together for our extended families,” says Carla Dearing, CEO of Sum 180.

For instance, in the United States, states can let a surviving spouse claim his or her “elective share” in place of what was left in the decedent’s will. A prenup allows your spouse to waive the elective share so you won’t need to fear your estate plan will be challenged by your surviving spouse, says Philadelphia divorce lawyer Linda A Kerns.

Similarly, many states automatically give spouses some rights to life insurance or retirement benefits, but a prenup would let your spouse give up their rights to them. Kerns says that if both spouses have substantial investments, they might want each of their own children to be the beneficiaries.

 

Myth No. 2: Never Discuss Estate Planning With Your Stepfamily

Estate planning is essential if you have children from an earlier marriage, Kerns says. Otherwise, your entire estate could pass to your new spouse and not to your own children.

Kerns recommends having frank conversations about your estate planning and prenup with your adult children and your new spouse. Grown kids are sometimes wary of their parent getting remarried because they are concerned about how it will affect their inheritance, Kerns notes.

If you have concerns about providing for a new spouse and children from a previous marriage, you can get creative with your estate planning, says Kelley C. Long, CPA, a Chicago financial planner with Financial Finesse. One of her clients created a formula for how much money he wanted his new wife to have when he died; the amount fluctuated based on their wealth and age. He also had regular meetings with his new spouse and his children to discuss how much each could expect to receive when he was gone.