Getting married later in life? The financial matters to consider
Feb 10, 2023
4 min read
What we'll cover
How getting married later in life may impact finances differently
Why you should discuss estate planning
How marriage affects tax filing
It’s no secret that money should be one of the top considerations for a couple getting married — regardless of age. And when older or previously married couples wed, money should be even more top of mind because there are longer individual financial histories involved, which may include various assets and debts.
For those marrying later in life, here are a few of the most important financial topics to think about before tying the knot.
Combining finances after marriage
When you get married, you have to decide what’s yours, mine and ours. That’s true at any age, but if you’re getting married later in life, you’ll likely have a higher income and more money to consider. Merging your finances is not one size fits all. Talk to your partner about what makes the most sense for your circumstances.
Some couples choose to fully combine finances. Others may keep their accounts totally separate, and others might opt for a combination of approaches with some money earmarked as shared and some as separate. The important thing is to make sure you’re on the same page about how to handle money matters as a married couple.
Everyone should have a plan for their affairs after they die. For couples marrying later in life, you may have more factors to consider. For instance, one or both partners may have children for whom they would like to provide for in their estate. An estate plan helps you prepare for the unexpected and can include a will, durable power of attorney and medical power of attorney. Don’t put off having a discussion about this crucial topic with your spouse.
The last thing you want to think about when you’re marrying the love of your life is the possibility that it might not work out. But a prenuptial agreement is another important legal topic to consider. Especially if you’re older, one or both partners may have considerable assets to protect in the event of divorce. Be open and honest with your partner about your thoughts and feelings, and decide together if a prenup is right for you.
You may have gotten used to filing your taxes as a single person, but now that you’re getting married you have to decide if you will file jointly or married but filing separately. Most couples will benefit from tax breaks when filing jointly, but there are some exceptions, such as if one partner has a large amount of out-of-pocket medical expenses. Talk it over as a couple, and consult a professional accountant if you need more guidance.
Medicaid and Medicare benefits
Getting married can affect retirement benefits like Medicaid. Remember that Medicaid is needs-based, so a beneficiary must have limited means to qualify. Once you wed, your spouse’s income may preclude you from getting benefits.
Medicare is health insurance for people aged 65 and older, so the older you are when you wed, the closer you are to qualifying. You may qualify for Medicare earlier if you have certain conditions or are disabled. Spouses enroll in coverage individually, but your marital status can affect your costs. Make a plan together for how you and your partner will handle medical care and health insurance as you age.
Social Security benefits
Getting married also affects social security benefits, another important issue as you age. For instance, if you get Supplemental Social Security Income (SSI), your spouse’s income and resources could change your benefit. If you and your spouse-to-be both get SSI, your benefit amount will change from an individual rate to a couple’s rate. In the event that you become a widow or widower, you cannot get benefits if you remarry before age 60. If you are disabled, you're disqualified if you remarry before age 50. And if you divorce, your benefits generally end if you remarry. It’s a lot to take in, but having these conversations early can ensure you’re both prepared for what might lie ahead.
Make smart money moves in marriage
However old you are when you say “I do,” money is a fundamental topic for you and your spouse to navigate as a couple. For those who walk down the aisle a bit later in life, certain aspects of your shared finances require even more attention and care. Approach these money matters as a team for financial success and wedded bliss.