Late Life Marriages Make Estate Planning Difficult

Late Life Marriages Make Estate Planning Difficult

Your kids think I'm after the family jewels.

From Smart Money By Lisa Scherzer
AFTER HER HUSBAND of 57 years passed away, Cathleen Bachmann's 80-year-old mother, Ruth, never thought she would remarry. It didn't take long, though, before an old friend she had known since kindergarten began courting her from another state. They started dating and soon her new beau decided to move to Michigan to be with her. About a year after her father died, Cathleen got a call from her mother saying she was going shopping for a wedding dress. (Names have been changed due to privacy concerns.)

Before the big day, Cathleen insisted that the couple sign a prenuptial agreement. "My father would have never forgiven me," she says, if she let her mother marry without one. Her parents had considerable assets and Cathleen worried that whoever was after her mother was after her money. "I knew it had to be done. If she predeceased him, because of our state law, I did not want him to inherit," she says.

Welcome to the new singles scene. Today, more and more seniors are finding love whether via a glance across the nursing home activity room or at the local senior citizens mixer. With the average life expectancy in the U.S. today at about 78 years, up from 70 in 1960, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, people are living longer and healthier lives than ever before. And that means more folks are rediscovering love later on in life.

But what can be exciting and romantic for an older couple can be nerve-wracking for families, who have hopes pinned to an inheritance or simply expectations about how money will be handled by a surviving parent. The issue here? Once married, a spouse will automatically inherit a deceased partner's estate — unless steps are taken to prevent that.

Tango’s Take More and more people are signing prenups—even without major assets to protect. We’ve got to admit that this makes sense if you need to protect children that are not yet adults, but the ol’ prenup was obviously created to  effectively protect family wealth against a potential gold-digging spouse (may Anna Nicole rest in piece). It's no wonder this article came from a source called Smart Money.
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