Some couples may have a little more housekeeping to do before tying the knot, especially if they’re older – as was the case with astronaut Buzz Aldrin, who got married on his 93rd birthday, and his “longtime love.”
Retirement Tip of the Week: Before saying “I do,” all couples should have serious conversations about their expectations, their finances and anything else important to them – but older couples in particular should review their assets and what they wish during life and death before getting hitched.
Aldrin, known for being one of the first men to walk on the moon, said in a Facebook post on Jan. 20 he had married his partner Dr. Anca V. Faur in a small private ceremony in Los Angeles. They were “as excited as eloping teenagers,” Aldrin wrote. Faur, who has been in a relationship with Aldrin for almost five years, serves as executive vice president of the astronaut’s company, Buzz Aldrin Ventures.
See: Why getting married later in life can be a big financial mistake
The astronaut joins the growing number of older Americans who are married. While younger adults have been pushing off vows until they’re in their late 20s, 30s or beyond, older Americans have seen an uptick in marriage rates – thanks in part to longer life expectancies, according to AARP. Older adults are also more likely to be remarried, the Census Bureau found.
Getting married is a big commitment for any couple, but older couples may have a few more considerations given their richer history, potentially larger families and extra time to accumulate assets and belongings.
Some advisers suggest creating a prenuptial agreement, especially if they have children or live in community states where property is treated as equally each partner’s, said Wes Shannon, a certified financial planner at SJK Financial Planning. The document can be shredded later, but it can’t be retroactively created, he tells his clients.
See: My mother’s husband has two children. What happens to my inheritance if my mother dies first? Will my stepfather’s family inherit money from her estate?
Estate planning can be tricky when children from previous relationships exist, said Brad Wright, a certified financial planner at Launch Financial Planning. (Aldrin has been married three times before, and has children from a previous marriage, for example.) There are trusts that allow surviving spouses to tap into the money for as long as they live and then have the remainder go to their own children. There are also simple account protections available, such as named beneficiaries.
Older couples should discuss how they intend to fit each other into their estate plans, as well as their healthcare expectations, Wright said. Not everyone is comfortable talking about these decisions – and some willingly choose to keep it private so as not to inflict any hard feelings – but older married individuals with adult children may want to have some sort of open communication about what they choose to do.
Before remarrying, individuals should review their retirement and pension benefits, such as if previous spouses have access to any of those accounts, and may want to check their divorce paperwork again, according to Principal Financial.
Social Security should also be analyzed, as individuals may be eligible for ex-spouse benefits. Widows might want to wait until they’ve reached age 60 so that their widow/widower’s benefit from a late spouse is preserved, said Sara Stolberg Berkowicz, a certified financial planner who has her Ph.D. in financial planning.
There are also the tasks every couple should do when they’re ready to walk down the aisle. Talk about how they’ll manage their money, including keeping accounts separate or merging them and how to handle any debt either individual brings into the marriage. They’ll need to decide what they’ll do with the assets they acquire together, such as a home and cars. And of course, consider important documents and assets, such as a will, healthcare proxy and any insurance should one spouse die.