Navigating Late-Life Love and Marriage ~ by our guest blogger, Annabelle Harris
Updated: Feb 2, 2022
If you're finding new love later in life, you may be wondering about the best way to navigate a long-term commitment. With adult children in the picture, or grandchildren you're caring for, you’re probably thinking about how to manage the process as well as figure out the practical elements that come with cohabitation and merging two fully-formed pre-existing lives and financial portfolios. Tomaro’s C.H.A.N.G.E. can be a useful resource as you embark on this new journey.
If both you and your soon-to-be spouse each own your own homes, and you want to live together, you'll have a couple of decisions to make. Do you sell both houses and buy a new home together? Do you keep one home and sell or rent the other? Renting can be a good investment, but you need time, money, and energy to be a landlord. Property management involves advertising for and vetting potential tenants, writing contracts, collecting rents, and making repairs. According to TransUnion Smart Move, a property manager can do all of this for you for a fee, which can take a lot of hassle out of the process.
If you each own your own homes, they’re likely full of personal possessions. Will you keep them all? Gift, donate, or sell what you don’t need? And the bigger question - will adult children or grandchildren of either line be upset with the process? A lot of emotion can arise when heirs feel they’re “losing” the potential of the family home or of treasured or valuable heirlooms. Having frank and honest discussions about your plans in advance of putting them into action can help reduce the chance of hurt feelings and strained relationships. Once you’ve decided, have an attorney put your wishes in writing and inform your respective families.
Long-Term Care Planning
As part of considering your current and future financial needs, as older adults, there’s a chance that one or both of you will need long-term care assistance at some point in time. It’s wise to discuss wishes and expectations, and make sure what you ideally want to happen can be supported by your financial planning. It may mean setting aside funds for care or talking with adult children about other living options. While this might not be the most romantic aspect of getting married, it’s both smart and practical to ensure everyone is on the same page, or at minimum, understands what your wishes are as you move forward.
Once you're married, you'll want to update your will, Social Security beneficiaries, advanced directives, and power of attorney. While you don’t necessarily need to name your new spouse in any of these, outlining how your joint and individual assets are distributed at some point in the future can give you peace of mind and ensure your families aren't left trying to put together puzzle pieces after the fact. Finances can get a bit complex later in life, particularly if there are family dynamics that include multiple marriages, divorces, estrangements, or previously existing financial obligations. An estate planning professional can advise you on best practices.
There are many older individuals who find themselves caring for grandchildren on either a part-time or full-time basis. Sometimes this is done as a way to help adult children as they navigate childcare and work, while others may be raising grandkids on a full-time basis. According to the AARP, this could be a challenge from a number of perspectives when you get married, as you’ll be navigating generational differences. Working with an organization such as Tomaro’s C.H.A.N.G.E., which provides support services and mental health therapy for families and couples, can be a good way to help ensure everyone is doing their best during what can be a difficult situation.
While some older couples opt against getting married because they find the idea of combining lives, homes, and finances late in life to be overwhelming, there are others who feel it’s important to recognize their commitment through marriage. While this can be immensely rewarding, for the best outcomes, address and manage the practical matters before you head down the aisle.
Tomaro’s C.H.A.N.G.E. offers affordable behavioral and mental health services to families and youth, all with an aim of providing an opportunity for holistic healing. Visit the site to learn more or reach out directly for more information.