Financial Checklist for Widows and Widowers in New Relationships

Plenty of books and articles offer financial planning tips for widows and widowers mourning the loss of their spouse--and often the loss of that spouse's income. But few address the financial issues that widows and widowers face as they move on and pursue new relationships.

For instance, widows who remarry before age 60 forfeit their late spouse's Social Security benefits, and both partners may have concerns about comingling money later in life when long-term care costs and estate planning are top of mind.

[See How to Get Marital Benefits--Sans Marriage.]

While some couples prefer remarriage for emotional or social reasons, this complicated web of financial concerns has caused a growing number of older couples to choose cohabitation instead. (Of course, if you live in a state that recognizes common law marriage, the state may still view you as married.)

According to Bowling Green State University demographer and sociology professor Susan L. Brown, 2.4 million Americans age 50 and older lived in "unmarried-partner households" in 2009, double the number from 2000. "Of all unmarrieds over age 50, I estimate 7 percent are currently cohabiting," she says. "Also, if we look at older adults in a repartnership, most are in a remarriage, but 9 percent are in a cohabitation."

Here's a look at the financial issues widows or widowers should consider as they recouple:

-- Children from a previous marriage: Consider how a remarriage might affect your existing family. For instance, if you have children who are attending college on financial aid, your new spouse's assets may be factored into the expected family contribution and change the student's financial aid eligibility. "When you comingle assets, there may be some difficulty with qualifying for aid because if you're filing jointly, you've got more income than you would have if you were filing as a single person," explains Kathleen Hasting, a certified financial planner and chartered adviser for senior living at FBB Capital Partners in Bethesda, Md.

Adult children may have concerns about how a remarriage will affect their inheritance or the family structure in general, so Hasting suggests discussing these concerns upfront. "I think that open communication and sharing the action you've taken to protect the children from the first marriage is probably one of the keys not only to help the children get through the process, but also to help the new marriage," she adds.

Estate lawyers often use a Qualified Terminable Interest Property (QTIP) trust with clients who have children from a prior marriage but want to provide for a surviving spouse. After the survivor passes, the money would go to the client's children.

[See What Type of Estate and Tax Planning Do I Need to Do?]

-- Survivor benefits: If you rely on income from your late spouse's pension or Social Security or veterans' benefits, you'll want to find out if you're eligible to collect these benefits after a remarriage. With private pensions, the answer will vary. "Some traditional pensions will not continue to give survivor's benefits if you remarry," says Hasting. Accounts that are a hybrid between a traditional pension and a 401(k) may be more flexible, she adds.

In general, surviving spouses who remarry before age 57 cannot collect veterans' survivor benefits, but those who remarry after age 57 and were receiving monthly payments before remarriage may continue receiving those benefits.

For Social Security benefits, the cut-off age is 60. Not surprisingly, a 2001 study by the Social Security Administration Office of Research, Evaluation, and Statistics found that since the law changed in 1979, allowing widows or widowers to remarry after age 60 and continue collecting Social Security benefits, there was an increase in remarriages after age 60 and a decrease in remarriages under age 60.

-- Long-term care: Given the high cost of long-term care--a private room in a nursing home cost $87,235 per year in 2011, according to a MetLife Survey--having a partner who needs that level of care could strain both of your bank accounts. If you're married, you'd need to spend down both spouse's assets before your spouse would qualify for Medicaid, even if you have a prenuptial agreement stating that certain assets be kept separate.

[See Should You Buy Long-Term Care Insurance?]

Steve Kunkel, lead managing director at tax consulting firm CBIZ MHM in Los Angeles, suggests considering long-term care insurance before you need it. "If the new spouse doesn't have a lot of assets, maybe one of the things that the richer spouse can do is provide a policy that covers both of them," says Kunkel, "People live for a long time nowadays, and they may have delayed onset Alzheimer's or develop some chronic problem that's going to require a lot of care."

Either way, you should discuss your healthcare preferences with your partner in case something happens to you. Also consider signing a healthcare proxy form if you're not married and want your partner to be able to make medical decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated.

-- Real estate: Before moving into a new partner's house or vice versa, discuss what happens to the house if the owner dies. Should the house go to that person's family or should the property be titled jointly? One option is to use a life estate, in which the other partner (called a life tenant) stays in the home for his or her lifespan, then the property passes to the owner's family after the life tenant's death.

As Jean Setzfand, vice president for financial security at AARP, points out, couples should also discuss how the property could be adapted as they age. "Is the house you're currently living in appropriate for you to live there the rest of your life?" she asks. Some homes may be unsuitable while others could be adapted with ramps to the entrance or grab bars in the shower.

Couples considering remarriage may also want a prenup (called an antenup in some states). "Life gets more complicated as you get older," says Setzfand. "That makes it harder when you comingle your life and financial situation. But the prenup is a discussion process, which helps you and your spouse figure things out. It also makes it official." Those who are already married could use a postnup instead.



More From US News & World Report

--

Get stories like this on the Yahoo app and discover more every day.
Download it now.
Loading...
  • Japan pledges $30 billion for Africa over next three years Reuters - 24 minutes ago

    Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told African leaders on Saturday that his country will commit $30 billion in public and private support for infrastructure development, education and healthcare expansion in the continent. Resource-poor Japan has … More »

  • Iran detects malware in petrochemical plants, says not linked to recent fires Reuters - 38 minutes ago

    Iran has detected and removed malicious software from two of its petrochemical complexes, a senior military official said on Saturday, after announcing last week it was investigating whether recent petrochemical fires were caused by cyber attacks. … More »

  • A monumental task: Getting Mainers to support a new park
    A monumental task: Getting Mainers to support a new park Associated Press - 58 minutes ago

    Among the empty storefronts on once-bustling Penobscot Avenue, longtime resident Jean McLean stood in her art gallery, the sole employee left at a business that once had three. "Right now, it's pretty ... … More »

  • Exclusive - Iraq plans to sell oil through Iran if talks with Kurds fail Reuters - 1 hour 32 minutes ago

    Iraq's government would consider selling crude through Iran should talks with the autonomous Kurdish region on an oil revenue-sharing agreement fail, a senior oil ministry official in Baghdad told Reuters. Iraq's State Oil Marketing Organisation … More »

  • Iraq willing to play active role in propping up oil prices - minister
    Iraq willing to play active role in propping up oil prices - minister Reuters - 1 hour 45 minutes ago

    Iraq is willing to play an active role within OPEC to support oil prices, its oil minister Jabar Ali al-Luaibi said on Saturday, without clarifying whether it was prepared to back a possible agreement to freeze output. "Iraq is seeking to play an … More »

  • Exlusive - Iraq plans to sell oil through Iran if talks with Kurds fail
    Exlusive - Iraq plans to sell oil through Iran if talks with Kurds fail Reuters - 1 hour 49 minutes ago

    Iraq's government would consider selling crude through Iran should talks with the autonomous Kurdish region on an oil revenue-sharing agreement fail, a senior oil ministry official in Baghdad told Reuters. Iraq's State Oil Marketing Organisation … More »

  • When death comes to stay: one Italian village's story
    When death comes to stay: one Italian village's story AFP News - 2 hours 19 minutes ago

    Nowhere was hit harder by the earthquake that brought death and devastation to a remote corner of central Italy this week than Saletta. Fewer than 20 people are permanent residents of the picturesque hamlet. On Wednesday, with the population … More »

  • Stronger Case for Fed Rate Rise Increases Volatility in Asia Bloomberg - 2 hours 57 minutes ago

    The Fed next meets Sept. 20-21 just hours after the Bank of Japan announces the results of its comprehensive review and decides policy, with Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda saying the review wouldn’t lead to a shrinking of policy. "A rate … More »

  • Japan’s Abe Dangles $30 Billion at African Leaders in Nairobi Bloomberg - 3 hours ago

    The Asian economy’s future investment in the continent of 1.2 billion people shows it has “faith in Africa’s future,” Abe told African leaders gathered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, for the sixth Tokyo International International Conference on … More »

  • Japan PM pledges to invest $30 bn in Africa by 2018
    Japan PM pledges to invest $30 bn in Africa by 2018 AFP News - 4 hours ago

    Japan will pour $30 billion (27 billion euros) in investment into Africa by 2018, including $10 billion in infrastructure development, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Saturday at a summit in Nairobi. "When combined with the investment from the … More »

  • US, Russia move closer to new Syria ceasefire after talks
    US, Russia move closer to new Syria ceasefire after talks AFP News - 5 hours ago

    Washington and Moscow have made key steps towards agreeing a new ceasefire in Syria, but a final deal has not been reached, US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart said after talks Friday. Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister … More »

  • VTTI says it resumes operations at Malaysia terminal Reuters - 8 hours ago

    SINGAPORE, Aug 27 (Reuters) - VTTI, the storage unit of world's largest oil trader Vitol, said late on Friday it has resumed operations at its Malaysia terminal ATT Tanjung Bin (ATB). "The suspension ... … More »

  • Most Read on Bloomberg: Good-But-Busted ETFs, Drifting Stocks Bloomberg - 9 hours ago

    (Bloomberg) -- The most-read Bloomberg News reports from the past week are listed below. The rankings are based on daily statistics through Aug. 27. … More »

  • China July industrial profits rise, buoyed by increased sales, falling costs Reuters - 10 hours ago

    Profits earned by China's industrial firms grew at their fastest pace in four months in July, aided by a pick-up in sales and reduced costs, the statistics bureau said on Saturday. Profits in July rose 11.0 percent to 523.01 billion yuan, the … More »

  • 4 Lessons I Learned After Marrying My Foreigner Wife DollarsAndSense.sg - 11 hours ago

    Discuss your past. Discuss your future. The post 4 Lessons I Learned After Marrying My Foreigner Wife appeared first on DollarsAndSense.sg. … More »

  • Business Highlights Associated Press - 14 hours ago

    ___ Yellen suggests rate hike is coming but offers no timetable Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said Friday that the case for raising interest rates has strengthened in light of a solid job market and ... … More »

  • California governor signs bill banning coal-export funding Associated Press - 14 hours ago

    California Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation Friday banning state transportation funding for new coal export terminals. The bill represents a victory for environmentalists as they campaign aggressively ... … More »

  • Stada shareholder AOC pushes through board reshuffle
    Stada shareholder AOC pushes through board reshuffle Reuters - 14 hours ago

    Stada (STAGn.DE) shareholder Active Ownership Capital (AOC) succeeded in convincing stock owners of the German drugmaker to vote off its supervisory board chairman in a voting marathon, but the activist investor fell short of its goal of replacing … More »

  • Dollar rises following Yellen remarks on rate hikes AFP - 15 hours ago

    The dollar rose Friday against the euro, the yen and the British pound following remarks from the US central bank favoring a near-term increase in interest rates. In a much-anticipated address, US Federal ... … More »

  • Global markets drift after Yellen speech
    Global markets drift after Yellen speech AFP News - 15 hours ago

    European and US equities markets were split on Friday after US Fed chief Janet Yellen suggested interest rates could rise in the near-term. In words carefully parsed by market watchers, Yellen said recent months had seen conditions in the US … More »

  • How the Dow Jones industrial average fared on Friday Associated Press - 16 hours ago

    Stocks ended on a weak note Friday after Federal Reserve officials said the case has strengthened for raising interest rates above the super-low levels that have helped fuel a seven-year bull market. Phone ... … More »

  • Stocks end mostly lower after Yellen speech
    Stocks end mostly lower after Yellen speech Associated Press - 16 hours ago

    Stocks ended mostly lower on Friday after Federal Reserve officials said the case has strengthened for raising interest rates above the super-low levels that have helped fuel a seven-year bull market. ... … More »

  • UN ready to help Colombia peace deal
    UN ready to help Colombia peace deal AFP News - 16 hours ago

    The UN Security Council on Friday warmly welcomed the historic peace deal reached between Colombia's government and FARC rebels, and pledged to help ensure the agreement takes hold. The council met behind closed doors two days after the Bogota … More »

  • Kerry, Lavrov hold marathon Syria talks
    Kerry, Lavrov hold marathon Syria talks AFP News - 16 hours ago

    US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov held marathon talks in Geneva on Friday for an expected push towards resuming peace talks for war-ravaged Syria. Asked during a break how the meeting was proceeding, Lavrov … More »

  • US stocks mixed after Yellen says picture firming for rate hike AFP - 17 hours ago

    US stocks were mixed on Friday after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said the case for a rate hike is strengthening, raising expectations of a move by year-end. Trade was fairly quiet as Yellen also ... … More »

 
Recent Quotes
Symbol Price Change % Chg 
Your most recently viewed tickers will automatically show up here if you type a ticker in the "Enter symbol/company" at the bottom of this module.
You need to enable your browser cookies to view your most recent quotes.
 
Sign-in to view quotes in your portfolios.

MARKET MOVERS

  • Most Actives
    Most Actives
    NamePriceChange% Chg
    0.129+0.001+0.78%
    N21.SI
    1.855-0.040-2.11%
    MC0.SI
    2.84+0.02+0.71%
    C52.SI
    4.22-0.05-1.17%
    Z74.SI
    0.58-0.01-1.69%
    5TP.SI
  • % Gainers
    % Gainers
    NamePriceChange% Chg
    0.29+0.08+38.10%
    5VI.SI
    0.36+0.07+22.03%
    BPF.SI
    0.192+0.030+18.52%
    AYD.SI
    0.27+0.04+17.39%
    BLU.SI
    0.40+0.05+14.29%
    BFK.SI
  • % Losers
    % Losers
    NamePriceChange% Chg
    0.205-0.055-21.15%
    BTJ.SI
    0.34-0.06-15.00%
    BCD.SI
    0.39-0.06-13.33%
    AYB.SI
    0.31-0.04-11.43%
    5VP.SI
    0.24-0.02-9.43%
    BAZ.SI

Market Data

  • Currencies
    Currencies
    NamePriceChange% Chg
    1.3582+0.0051+0.38%
    USDSGD=X
    1.5196-0.0071-0.47%
    EURSGD=X
    1.7809-0.0034-0.19%
    GBPSGD=X
    74.6820+0.437+0.59%
    SGDJPY=X
    5.7047-0.0235-0.41%
    SGDHKD=X
    2.9663+0.0023+0.08%
    SGDMYR=X
    9,748.1885-70.3965-0.72%
    SGDIDR=X
    4.9062-0.0141-0.29%
    SGDCNY=X
    1.0263-0.0043-0.42%
    AUDSGD=X
  • Commodities
    Commodities
    NamePriceChange% Chg
    1,324.00-0.60-0.05%
    GCZ16.CMX
    18.63+0.14+0.76%
    SIU16.CMX
    95.80-0.72-0.74%
    ^XAU
    2.080.00+0.10%
    HGU16.CMX
    47.29-0.04-0.08%
    CLV16.NYM
  • Bonds
    Bonds
    TreasuryYield (%)Yield Change
    1.24+0.08
    ^FVX
    1.63+0.06
    ^TNX
    2.30+0.03
    ^TYX