Tying the knot as an older adult can mean more than just a trip to the altar. For some, marriage later in life involves a blending of families that merges adult children as well as substantial assets that may have taken you most of your lifetime to accumulate. For these reasons and others, it can be important to put serious thought and effort into creating an estate plan that coincides with your wishes and meets your objectives.
If you're a senior who is hearing wedding bells, then you may want to keep reading. The following is a basic shortlist of estate planning tips that may be helpful when putting together a solid plan with your new spouse.
- Making your intentions known
Even before you head down the aisle, it can be important that the two of you discuss critical financial issues as a couple. By doing so, everything is out on the table and there are no unintended surprises down the road. It may not be the most romantic thing to do prior to your wedding, but it can be an important first step in the estate planning process.
- Inventory your assets
Savings accounts, retirement accounts, insurance policies, commercial and personal real estate, family heirlooms, etc. should probably be inventoried by both of you. Developing a complete list can make it much easier for you both to decide which assets will be combined jointly or kept separate, and how certain things will be divided among your adult children and grandchildren.
- Make end-of-life decisions
It's not easy to discuss end-of-life intentions at such a happy time in your life. However, by doing so now, you may be able to avoid conflict and complications that may arise in the future.
- Update critical documents
Be sure that your will, life insurance policies, and other important financial documents reflect your new situation and include updated beneficiary designations if necessary. Anything that predates your new marriage might not provide your surviving spouse with the financial support that he or she needs.
- Set up a trust
A trust can be an effective way to protect assets from a previous marriage and to ensure that your assets are passed on to your beneficiaries as you would want. Work with a qualified estate planning attorney who can help you set one up.
- Discuss a prenuptial agreement
While this document isn't typically part of an estate plan, it can be a helpful tool for clarifying certain financial issues. As noted in the first tip, it's better to get certain things out in the open before saying “I do,” and a prenuptial agreement is one of them.
We hope these tips for estate planning for newlyweds seniors may help you start your marriage out on the right foot. For more estate planning basics, as well as ways to use life insurance in estate planning, visit the Protective Learning Center.