Retirement Weddings Without Worry
Combining love and finances can be a challenge for couples of all ages.
But retirees who marry might face a little more complexity – after all, you might face everything from complex practical issues, like Social Security elections, to deep-seated personal issues, like being used to managing your money independently.
That’s why we recommend that marrying retirees use their wedding as the starting point for open and honest communication about money.
Communication conquers all
When it comes to marriage and finances, we don’t think it’s love that conquers all. In fact, if you ask any of our financial planners, they’ll likely all say the same thing: the key to marriage and money is communication.
No matter what your age, financial decisions will likely come up in your life together. Some of these issues are small, but others can be extremely stressful. Whether it’s a dip in the market, a squabble over living expenses, or a healthcare crisis that seriously impacts your finances, joining lives means working together through financial challenges.
But if you can communicate early and often about your respective financial values and goals, you have already taken a significant step in building a more robust relationship.
How to start
Of course, just sitting down to discuss a Social Security situation with an ex-spouse or your precarious pension situation isn’t always easy.
That’s why we suggest meeting with a financial planner to get the conversation going.
Having a professional third party to help you cover the major issues and brainstorm in a neutral environment can make for a stronger financial plan – and it can also help you find prudent solutions to more complicated questions.
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If you prefer to talk between yourselves first, or to DIY your financial planning, we suggest the following steps to get started:
- Pick a good time. Make a financial conversation part of your relationship. Otherwise, make sure you have the quiet space and time needed to truly connect and communicate.
- Talk about goals and values. What does your partner hope your married life will look like? What do you think is important when it comes to money? How integrated do you want your lives to be – or not?
- What role do you want to play? To the extent that you want to integrate finances, how active do you each want to be in terms of financial management, and what roles would you feel comfortable playing in your financial life?
- Agree to put it all on the table. We recommend full disclosure – in fact, we’d argue that it’s a critical part of this process. Secrets can sabotage your relationship or become a self-fulfilling prophecy in a divorce.
- Find the level of financial integration that works for you. Fully combined finances or separate or something in between – your optimal strategy will probably be unique to you. Just remember, any strategy will still most likely require a healthy dose of communication!
A basic financial plan should include a discussion of budgeting and debt management, goals for short- and long-term savings, a discussion of lifestyle ambitions, and of course retirement plans for Social Security, medical expenses, and estate planning.
Make contingency plans
In addition to strategizing for your financial future, we recommend talking through critical contingency plans. That means working through appropriate insurance coverage for your needs and a basic estate plan to protect your partnership in the event of a catastrophe.
We recommend estate planning for most people and couples, but it is especially important for later marriages, blended families, or other unique planning situations like business ownership or separate property.
Consider the following:
- A will or trust. These estate planning tools can simplify inheritance or ensure that assets are demarcated according to your particular wishes.
- Healthcare and financial powers of attorney. Especially if you don’t wish to nominate your spouse for this role, or if you want to have a “default” backup, these can be very important documents.
- Advanced healthcare directive. Whether or not you and your spouse see eye to eye on certain medical treatments, having a document like this in place can be very useful in an emergency situation. At the very least, it could save your spouse from having to think through these issues at a highly stressful moment.
Go forth and enjoy that wedding!
These can be heavy topics, even if you’re prepared for them. But handling these issues early can put you on more stable footing going into marriage – something we think is a worthwhile goal.
Make financial planning part of your wedding planning, and you might just find that you can enjoy the wedding cake all the more. Because this is a celebration that goes far beyond your love, and towards the new life that you’ll create.
But don’t stop there
As a retiring newlywed, you might have questions that go far beyond how much cake you can afford. Tackle your new retirement together – and get those financial conversations with your spouse started – by downloading our retirement transition guide. We’ll tackle major retirement stressors and walk you through some of the steps that you can take to set yourself up on a stronger financial path.
Download Your Retirement Transition Guide for free today!
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