Tips and to-dos from money guru Jean Chatzky
Getting married in your 40s, 50s, and beyond, is different than marrying in your 20s and 30s—particularly where money is concerned. You're coming to this union with your money habits and behaviors largely ingrained, and (hopefully) with significant assets, as well. Checking off these line items will help you negotiate the financial waters:
□ Discuss the big three:
What you earn, what you own, and what you owe. This is essentially the financial landscape that your life together will be built on. (Note: As you're discussing what you owe, talk about where you fall on the spending vs. saving continuum. Do you save before you spend? Spend only when you have it? Or do you typically carry a balance on your credit cards?)
□ Talk about prior obligations:
You're not just bringing your years of financial experience to your marriage, but perhaps obligations to a former spouse or children. If you have been divorced, sharing your divorce agreement is a good idea. Also discuss specific financial wishes as they relate to any children you have from prior relationships. You'll need to consider whether your new spouse will inherit money that would otherwise have gone to your kids and whether (if you're bringing unequal resources to the marriage) all kids will be treated equally as far as finances are concerned.
□ Maintain at least some autonomy:
The more individual obligations you or your new spouse have—in the form of support to a former spouse, children or a business—the more important it is to maintain separate finances to take care of these needs. If you want to set up a joint account for the household expenses, do that as well.
□ Formalize your wishes in a prenup:
If you're coming to the marriage with significant assets, children, a business you own alone (or with your family), or the expectation of an inheritance, you need a prenuptial agreement. Get it done at least several months before the wedding.
□ Review benefits:
Are you better off each maintaining your own health insurance—or will one of you go on the other's policy? Are there other employee benefits (like retirement plans and insurance policies), as well as life insurance and disability insurance to review and take better advantage of?
□ Revise your estate plan:
You'll want to revise your will, of course. But also take a close look at titles of any real estate you hold and beneficiaries on your retirement accounts and insurance policies. These all take precedence over a will, so you'll want them in line with your wishes. Finally, you may want to talk to an estate planning attorney about trusts and life estates that can allow you to take care of your new spouse, while also providing for your children.
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