Getting married is exciting at any age. When you’re over the age of 45, though, there may be more to think about than what to do with another Crock Pot. You have spent years building wealth and planning for your future. Whether you are walking down the aisle for the first time, or have found love again, we have some considerations to help you navigate the financial aspects of a late-in-life marriage.
Financial Pros and Cons of Getting Married Later in Life
Pro: For many couples, getting married older allows them to support each other financially, increase their buying power and provide a larger financial cushion for retirement. People getting married later in life have likely already established money management styles and will need to discuss how they plan to combine finances.
Con: For older couples with significant financial assets, getting married could result in a much higher tax bill. It’s also not unusual for couples to have financial commitments from a previous marriage, including child support, alimony, mortgage payments, memberships and more. Couples should have an open conversation about which expenses they expect their future spouse to contribute to and stick to the agreed-upon financial arrangement.
Social Security Payments
Pro: As a married couple, you're each eligible to collect your own Social Security benefit or up to 50 percent of your spouse's benefit, whichever is greater. This can be a financial plus if one of you is a higher earner. In addition, a widow or widower is eligible to collect up to 100 percent of the other's benefit. And if you’re already collecting Social Security retirement or disability benefits, marriage won’t result in a reduction of those payments.
Con: If you’re receiving Supplemental Social Security or other benefits, one of the disadvantages of late marriage is the way it could affect that income:
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments. Your SSI payment amount may change as a result of your new spouse’s income and resources. If you and your spouse both get SSI, your payment amount will change from an individual rate to a couple’s rate.
- Widow/widower or divorced widow/widower payments:
- If you remarry before age 50, you won’t be entitled to survivor’s or disability benefits unless you divorce.
- If you remarry between the ages of 50 and 59, you can’t get benefits. If you remarry before you turn 60 and that marriage ends, you may become entitled or re-entitled to benefits on your prior deceased spouse’s earnings record. Your benefits begin the first month in which the subsequent marriage ended if all entitlement requirements are met.
- If you remarry after age 60 — you may still become entitled to benefits on your prior deceased spouse’s Social Security earnings record.
- Divorced spouse’s benefits. Generally, if you remarry, benefits paid to you from your prior spouse’s account stop.
- Children’s benefits (under age 18 or student ages 18 or 19). Children’s benefits end once the child marries.
Pro: A married person can generally leave an unlimited amount of money to their spouse without paying any estate tax. In addition, the surviving spouse can use any unused portion of the deceased spouse's lifetime estate tax exclusion upon his or her death.
Con: Existing estate plans will need to be updated, wills will need to be revised, new beneficiaries will need to be designated and a power of attorney will need to be signed. If you have been planning and investing over time, you may have designated someone else as a beneficiary on your existing policies and changing that can sometimes lead to tension between adult children and new spouses. And there’s always the chance that things won’t work out. If assets are inequitable, a prenuptial agreement may be a good idea. A beneficiary review should also be done with all bank accounts, investments, life insurance and annuity policies to make certain the proceeds get paid according to your wishes.
Pro: Getting married older can be beneficial when it comes to combining health insurance — couples are generally eligible to enroll in their spouse’s plan when they sign their marriage licenses.
Con: Certain benefits, like survivor Social Security benefits, will end when you walk down the aisle with someone else. If you receive medical insurance through a government sponsored plan, and your new combined income is greater than the plan’s income threshold, it could result in higher out-of-pocket medical costs for you.
Other Insurance Implications
Pro: When you and your new spouse combine households, you will often combine insurance plans, one of the main benefits of marrying later in life. From auto to homeowners insurance, you may be able to get a more favorable rate when you get married older.
Con: If your spouse has a poor driving record or a teenage driver on their policy, you may see your insurance rate go up. When you make major life changes, it’s always beneficial to let your local agent know so they can perform a SuperCheck® to uncover additional savings you may qualify for.
Protect Your Future
Your Farm Bureau agent has financial tools for any age and stage of life. Let’s work together to protect your future.