Are you about to embark on a second marriage? Congratulations! It’s wonderful to rediscover wedded bliss after divorce or the loss of a spouse.
However, in the midst of planning for the celebration, there’s another plan you need to make – a financial plan. Protecting your assets, for yourself and your heirs, is vital, and a second marriage can create a host of unexpected pitfalls if you don’t prepare.
We highly recommend this helpful article published some months ago on the website MarketWatch.com. It’s called “Smart Money Moves to Make Before a Second Marriage.” As the writer puts it, having an open and honest financial conversation before you marry is especially important for second marriages. “The requisite prenuptial financial meeting can be even more important the second time around,” the article says, “when both spouses may be more advanced in their careers, with significant assets and, perhaps, children to plan for.”
The author lists four specific financial actions to take before you walk down the aisle. These tips are simple, but essential if you want to protect the assets you’re counting on in your senior years – and perhaps those you plan to pass along to your heirs.
The first suggestion: before you re-marry, put all your financial cards on the table. This includes “coming clean” about assets, liabilities, tax returns and investment statements. You may even need to arrange a pre-marital meeting between your respective financial advisers, depending on your situation. Openness now builds trust later.
The second idea is to explore what the article calls “your money personalities.” If you’re the frugal one, you don’t want to be surprised to learn that your new spouse is a spender. “Merging your financial philosophies can be especially difficult,” says MarketWatch. “The key to success is gaining some appreciation for each others perspective and strengths.” Then you can design your household financial management around each spouse’s fiscal strong suits.
Suggestion number three involves setting joint financial priorities, something that some couples assume but never adequately explore until conflict arises. Again, these issues can be especially acute in a second marriage where both spouses are older, usually with more assets on the line and adult children to consider. You’ve got to figure out how to work together as a financial team. Says MarketWatch, “Disagreements can range from the size of a mortgage to carry to the amount of risk to take with your investments to how much you’ll each contribute to your children’s college education.” Decide what the new rules and guidelines will be and then stick to them!
Finally, the article concludes with a suggestion we heartily endorse: update your wills and other legal documents. There are many ways to provide legal protection for yourself, your new spouse and your adult children, but if you fail to plan you open yourself and your heirs up to serious pain and potential disputes that can tear families apart. We discussed this on our AgingOptions blog in a recent article about updating your beneficiaries, something many retirees in second marriages fail to do.
Yes, it’s great to celebrate this new relationship! But don’t let bad planning turn your celebration into a nightmare. And don’t let failure to plan ruin your dreams of a fruitful retirement. To start creating your own retirement plan, we invite you to attend a free LifePlanning Seminar at a location near you. We’ll review all aspects of a solid LifePlan: legal, financial, housing, health and family. It’s a fast-paced, information-packed session we know you’ll enjoy. To reserve your place at a free seminar, click on the Upcoming Events tab on this website. We hope to meet you soon.
(originally reported at www.marketwatch.com)