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Marriage after 50? It's Complicated

Valentine's Day brings thoughts of love . . . and marriage. In cases of midlife marriage (50 and up), there are different issues to consider before agreeing to tie the knot.

Some considerations to take into account before walking down the aisle are the separate assets and debts already accrued by both partners. Marrying for a second or third time or even the first time later in life has its own set of drawbacks. Has your beloved been wise with his finances or has he filed bankruptcy a time or two? Does your lady love have a lot of unsecured credit card debt following her around? What about financial obligations to any children -- adult or otherwise -- or former spouses?

None of these topics are particularly enjoyable to discuss with your prospective spouse, but as each has bearing on the other's proposed future,they must be addressed at some time, preferably before an engagement has been announced.

Anther factor affecting the decision to marry later in life can include health conditions of either or both parties. Any chronic or debilitating conditions experienced by one spouse will naturally have ramifications on their partner, so ideally the time for full disclosure has already come. If not, sit your beloved down and have that frank conversation. Now is not a time to minimize health concerns.

Discuss how two incomes will affect the filing of your yearly taxes. You may decide not to file jointly to avoid being pushed into a higher tax bracket. Couples with widely disparate incomes and children from prior unions may also wish to look into a trust to cover the surviving spouse's economic needs in the event of one partner's death.

Older prospective partners should each speak with a financial adviser and an attorney to advise them of any potential pitfalls if they marry so they don't get blindsided later. While they ultimately may still make the decision to marry regardless, at least each party in the marriage is aware of all issues that may jointly affect them.

Before tying the knot after age 50, it would be wise for a person to schedule a consultation with an attorney familiar with Massachusetts divorce and family laws who can advise them on how to best structure their assets to make sure their financial future is as rosy as possible.

Source: marketwatch.com, "Marrying after 50? You’ll have money problems to solve" Elizabeth O'Brien, Feb. 06, 2014

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