Lawyers urge unmarried clients to draw up agreements specifying which partner is responsible for expenses and who will inherit assets. Many couples ignore the advice and share expenses informally. But the loose arrangements can result in messy legal problems if the couple splits or one partner dies suddenly.
It has been said that marriage is a young persons’ game, but love isn’t. These days, more and more Americans are meeting new loves or (finally) their true loves later in life. These later-in-life marriages can be tricky. On the other hand, even if you leave marriage to the young and idealistic, there is some planning that really has to be in place.
The sociology of later-in-life marriage is fascinating, both in thinking about the recent jump in numbers and the more recent decrease. Either with or without tying the knot it is also a practical issue with legal ramifications, and for those later-in-life loves not destined for marriage there is some practical advice to be gleaned in a recent article on the subject in The New York Times titled “Welcoming Love at an Older Age, but Not Necessarily Marriage.”
The article has the voice of several experts and more than a few horror stories to share. You see, marriage is an emotional union, but it is also an economic and legal one. This may come far more naturally to 20-somethings than boomers. It seems the older you get the more you have and the more you have to think about.
If you are to marry, then the separate pasts, lives, and families have to account for it all and mesh together, which is a tricky enterprise when everything from college financial aid for children/grandchildren to Medicare or Medicaid benefits may instantly be affected.
To not marry doesn’t necessarily make all of those issues go away, but it might add new ones. For example, how will you legally care for one another and how will you own assets like the home. And of course, there is always the possibility of a split – even this late in life – and the question then of how protected your assets comes to the forefront.
Do take a look at the original article, especially if marriage is not the end-goal, and be sure to structure this new stage in life so that it might also be a happy one.
Reference: The New York Times (April 25, 2014) “Welcoming Love at an Older Age, but Not Necessarily Marriage”