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Are you considering getting married again?  Is this a second marriage?  Do you and your fiancé have children from previous relationships? Do you and your fiancé have separate finances and assets or want some of your assets to remain separate after marriage?

While you must enjoy the beauty and excitement of a wedding and being newly-weds, you must also consider how a marriage can impact certain aspects of your financial, long term care and estate planning.

  • Marriage can impact your pension.  If you receive a pension or will receive a pension in the future from a deceased spouse, remarriage may terminate those benefits.  Always check what impact a marriage will have on benefits from a previous spouse.
  • Marriage may impact your Social Security benefits.  If you were previously married, marriage may impact your benefits depending on whether the previous marriage ended in divorce or death.  If you are receiving Supplemental Security Income, marriage may impact your benefits, including reducing the.  Marriage may also provide you and your fiancé an opportunity more planning options in when to apply for and receive Social Security Retirement income.
  • Marriage can impact how you and your spouse will pay future long term care costs.  In many, but not all, states, spouses are responsible for the costs of each other’s medical care, including long term care.  If you need to seek assistance from Medicaid to cover long term care costs, there are limits on the assets that one spouse can have while so other can qualify for Medicaid.  In addition, Medicaid may have a lien or claim against certain assets after the death of both of spouses, impacting both spouses’ estate plans.   Be sure to consider purchasing long term care insurance.  If you are unable to purchase long term care insurance, talk to an attorney about potential responsibility for each other’s costs of care and how to minimize it.
  • Marriage can also affect your estate plan.  In many states, a spouse is entitled to certain benefits from a deceased spouse’s estate due to marriage, unless waive by a marital agreement.  These spousal benefits can include an allowance from the estate;  an interest in the family home, even if it was owned by the deceased spouse prior to the marriage; and, a share of assets owned by the deceased spouse prior to death, even if the assets are jointly held with a child.  If you want to maintain your current estate plan, speak with an attorney about a marital agreement to waive any spousal rights that would interfere with your estate plan.

If you are considering a second marriage or a marriage later in life, be sure you consider how that legal relationship, and its attendant rights and obligations, will impact your long term care plan, your estate plan, and even your income sources.  Consider whether you will need a marital agreement to ensure the continuity of your estate plan while accommodating your new spouse.  An elder law attorney can assist with these issues and many more.