One of the surest ways to stir up conflict and create legal battles that go one long after you get sick or die is to get married later in life and skip the whole "Should we have a pre-nup?" and "How will getting married affect my estate?" discussions.
- We were working with Elaine a few years ago. Elaine decided to get married again at the age of 60. Elaine had three children. Her "husband to be" had two children of his own. Elaine did what most people do - she named her husband as the beneficiary of her IRAs, which is where most of her money was. When she died at age 70, all of her IRAs went into her husband's IRA. Then later when her husband died, ALL of the funds went to the husband's children. Elaine's children got nothing...nada...zip.
- We also worked with Luther. When Luther married at age 72, he felt it was not necessary to have a pre-nup in place. He would keep his money in separate accounts so that when he died, it would be easy to determine what his children would inherit. But what Luther didn't realize, is that when he died, the step-mother of Luther's children had a claim to a portion of Luther's accounts. Click here to see a recent Wall Street Journal article that addresses the importance of Prenups and Estate Planning for couples marrying later in life.
- Lita and Vernon found love last year. Lita resisted getting married because she wanted her estate to go to her children when she died. She signed a Pre-Nup and new estate planning legal documents, and was confident she was protecting her estate for her children. Six months after marriage, Vernon had a stroke and wound up in a nursing home. Even though Lita's accounts were "Lita's and Lita's only" she was forced by Medicaid to deplete all of her accounts on her husband Vernon's nursing home expenses.
It's critical that AT LEAST SEVERAL WEEKS BEFORE YOU PUT ON YOUR TUXEDO OR WEDDING DRESS, you get advised about how to handle a Marriage Contract, and your Estate, so that those closest to you don't get into a big squabble when you're gone.