We’re living longer and while most of us have heard the many considerations that we must take into account as our life expectancy increases, there’s another factor that you may not have considered: Marriage. Late in life marriages, as they’re referred to, are becoming more common with our aging society. That means changes to your estate plan are more crucial than ever. It also likely means twice as many new family members, from adult children to grandchildren and sometimes even great grandchildren.
Social Security Benefits
There are a number of dynamics that potentially play out when it comes to your social security benefits. Even if you’ve carefully prepared, you now have to consider more than just yourself. Remember, too, that you may suddenly have more to deplete in your newly combined estate. Of course, marriage will allow your spouse or you to qualify for spousal social security benefits. It will likely affect the amount you receive, and certainly if one of you has a smaller or larger benefit. Remember that a spousal benefit can be as high as 50 percent of the amount received by the spouse receiving the larger benefit. Your estate planning lawyer can provide insight on these dynamics and what they’ll look like moving forward.
Widow and Widower Benefits
If you’re remarrying because you’re widowed, versus divorced, you likely are already familiar with widow and widower benefits. If you’re not, you should know that if you outlive your spouse, you may qualify for widow(er) payments. You should know that the amount can be can be as high as 100 percent of what your spouse received prior to passing. Don’t forget, if you’re marrying after the age of 60, if you have been married before, and your marriage lasted ten years or more, you are still eligible for widowers’ benefits, but only if you marry after 60. If you marry before 60, any benefits are in association with your current marriage.
While this is advice that applies across the board when it comes to marriages, subsequent marriages where there are adult children named as sole beneficiaries on things like pensions, insurance policies and your will may need to be revisited. It’s always your choice, but be sure you’re the one who decides versus the courts after your death. There may be specific needs for all parties and they too should play a role in your decision making process. Don’t forget, this is applicable for property titles and deeds, your bank accounts and other important financial accounts. It’s good advice to speak with any adult children – or adult grandchildren, for that matter – so that there aren’t any surprises.
Older Newlyweds & Estate Planning – Different Priorities
Let’s face it – priorities and needs are different for later in life marriages. When we’re young newlyweds, our focus is on the china patterns and the way the bride’s name looks with her husband’s last name. That’s not to take away from the beauty and excitement of first marriages, but it’s to highlight the differences of those marriages where our priorities have shifted after having lived so many years.
Your estate planning lawyer can help you go through the important changes and what they mean. Updates to your will, powers of attorney and trusts are just the beginning. Contact our offices today to learn more.