Brenda Lyle – Florida Today
Q: Are there any legal issues seniors should consider when remarrying?
A: The face of remarriage comes with a few wrinkles. According to the US Census Bureau, 20% of Americans aged 60-69 have been married twice. That number includes divorced and remarried empty nesters, as well as widow and widowers who opted to remarry. Individuals with a lifetime of asset accumulation, pensions, insurances and real estate have quite a few things to consider when they decide to tie a new knot.
Before the nuptials
It is very important for older couples to discuss their finances, investment strategies and distribution of assets at death before they marry. One bank account or two? Who will handle the family purse strings? Both parties may have previously completed their estate planning. Documents, such as Power of Attorney and Health Care Surrogate, may need to be redrafted to include provisions for the new spouse. Trusts and wills may require changes if the new spouse and/or their adult children are to be included (or excluded). A prenuptial or postnuptial agreement is another tool to address legal ownership of assets. The contract (to which both parties agree) outlines the terms and conditions associated with dividing up financial assets and responsibilities if the marriage dissolves.
Older couples considering marriage often own their own home. After deciding which home will be the primary residence, the deed can be rewritten to include the new spouse. The issue of home ownership may also be specified in a trust document. Even if the couple chooses to purchase a home together, ownership upon death should be discussed– especially if there are adult children from one or both marriages.
Governmental red tape
If your name will be changing, be sure to notify Social Security and Medicare for the reissue of new cards. Social Security benefits can be affected for those receiving SSI or a widow benefit. If you’re of full retirement age, and your SS benefit is less than one half that of your new spouse, you can receive the Social Security benefit on your record plus an additional amount to bring you up to half of your new spouse’s benefit –after you have been married for one year. Widows or widowers with Tricare for Life military health insurance will lose their Tricare eligibility when remarrying someone who isn’t eligible for Tricare.
Feel confident about your decision to say “I do,” by consulting your financial planner and attorney before the big day. To attend the free legal seminars at One Senior Place locations, RSVP online at OneSeniorPlace.com or call 321-751-6771.
One Senior Place is a marketplace for resources and provider of information, advice, care and on-site services for seniors and their families. Questions for this column are answered by professionals in nursing, social work, care management and in-home care. Send questions to AskOSP@OneSeniorPlace.com, call 321-751-6771 or visit One Senior Place, The Experts in Aging.
Brenda Lyle is a Certified Care Manager and Certified Dementia Practitioner with One Senior Place, Greater Orlando.