The Truth About Getting Married Later in Life

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Marriage is wonderful and I’m not here to debate the merits of getting married at any age. But there’s no getting around the fact that tying the knot in your 40s, 50s or even 60s involves some different considerations that it does in your 20s and 30s.

Beyond just sorting through wedding gifts and thank you notes, marriage between two people with longer histories involves important decisions concerning finances, children, assets, housing, and retirement.

Consider taking these steps to make sure you and your new soon-to-be spouse are on the same page financially.

Update your tax filing.

Let’s start with a fun one: taxes. The Internal Revenue Service suggests that all newlyweds update their status to make sure that the names on their tax returns match the names registered with the Social Security Administration. If not, any tax refund could be delayed. This is also a good time to talk to your accountant to determine whether or not it makes sense to file jointly or as married filing separately come tax time. There are benefits to both but you need to prepare in advance.

Combine your finances.

This can be a particularly hairy subject for older newlyweds who have both had long careers on their own. Not only are you more likely to have systems in place that you’re comforable with but you both have a better chance to be bringing significant assets into the marraige. This can complicate matters when considering combining your finances. Children from previous marriages only add to the confusion.

The Financial Planning Association suggests discussing each other’s credit histories, determine your comfort with debt, come to an agreement on how to share paychecks, savings, and bill payments, and set up one joint banking account and an individual account for each partner. As with everything, these are all personal decisions and your mileage may vary, but it’s important to be open and have these conversations before trouble arises.

Talk about estate planning and retirement. 

A new spouse changes the game for estate planning, and your retirement plan will likely need to be updated as a result. It’s not only important to consider each other, but also children from previous relationships and existing agreements and arrangements. Think about updating your wills, your life insurance beneficiaries, your retirement accounts, your investment funds and other estate documents. And yes, prenuptial agreements should be in the mix.

AARP suggests that those marrying later in life have separate wills rather than a joint will. This will smooth potential complications with the future distribution of property.

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