It has been said that marriage is a young person's game, but love is not. These days, more and more Americans are meeting new loves or (finally) their true loves later in life. Navigating later-in-life marriages can be tricky, to say the least.
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,
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 a spiritual and an emotional union. However, marriage also is an economic and legal one. This may come far more naturally to 20-somethings than boomers, whether in Overland Park or elsewhere. It seems the older you get the more relationships and stuff you have and, accordingly, the more you have to think about and plan appropriately.
If you are to marry, then the separate pasts, lives, and families have to account for it all and mesh together. This can be a tricky undertaking when everything from college financial aid for children/grandchildren to Medicare or Medicaid benefits may instantly be affected.
To not marry does not 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 of asset protection (or division) comes to the fore.
Note: In Kansas (but not in Missouri), there may be the possibility one cohabitant may cry "common law marriage" ... and that is when things can get really interesting. [Spoiler alert: Usually it is the cohabitating partner with fewer assets who seeks a judicial division of assets.]
Do take a look at the original article, especially if marriage is not the objective. Regardless, be sure to structure this new stage in life so that it might also be a happy one.
Remember: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” When making your financial, tax and estate plans, do not go it alone. Be sure to engage competent professional counsel.
For more information about estate planning in Overland Park, KS (and throughout the rest of Kansas and Missouri) and to download free tools to help you organize your estate, visit my estate planning website.
Reference: The New York Times (April 25, 2014) “Welcoming Love at an Older Age, but Not Necessarily Marriage”