Just when you think your children are done
fussing about the small details of life, they start again fussing--as
adults, no less--about their inheritances if you become involved in an
unmarried relationship. Assure them that the inheritance is intact and that
you haven't forgotten them or the grandchildren
Older couples have a lifetime of assets--a
house or two, multiple bank and brokerage accounts, insurance coverage and
perhaps an annuity. There's no need to combine assets late in life, unless
you feel compelled to feed a starving attorney who will gobble your money to
draft a detailed property agreement.
Many older couples choose to maintain separate
households simply because fond memories go with the house and logistics make
the task of moving in together overwhelming. Maintaining separate households
also eliminates any legal wrinkles in the event of a death.
If you haven't already done so, think about
getting long-term care insurance. Many seniors don't want to be a burden,
emotionally or financially, on their children. Such coverage is a good start
on both counts. Don't count on Medicaid.
At this stage of your life, it's important to
think about estate planning. Make a list of what you want done and then meet
with an attorney. Setting up an estate isn't cheap, so give this some
Health Care Directive
Think about drafting a health care directive to
be sure you'll be treated in accordance with your wishes if you're
incapacitated. Discuss your plans with your family. Make your wishes known.
Then put them in writing.
Finance of Romance
If you take care of the financial basics,
chances are your children will be more supportive of your romantic
relationship late in life. With a little planning, it's possible to protect
the interests of your children while following your heart.
August 4, 2005
for older couples
story published today in Forbes Magazine asks the reader to imagine that
your spouse has died following a long,
loving relationship, and after several years of living alone you've
decided to move in with that engaging person who makes you feel alive
companionship is warm and all is well, except for the children.
"The kids may
have a conniption over the surviving parent's decision to date," says
Sheryl Garrett, a certified financial planner and co-author of
Money Without Matrimony: The Unmarried
Couple's Guide To Financial Security. "The adult children
don't like it--especially when mom is the surviving parent, because
they're worried about the inheritance."
First, a word to the kids: Grow up!
a lifetime of experience and they haven't forgotten you--or the
grandchildren. So relax.
cases, retired adults have acquired large houses filled with a lifetime
of things, and the logistics of moving in together are overwhelming so
the lovebirds often maintain separate households. If nothing else, this
makes it easier to sort things out after one partner dies.
At this stage
in life, estate planning is critical, and a living trust warrants
A will states
what you want done with your assets after death. Your influence ends
after the will has been approved by the probate court. Garrett says that
a trust holds assets or property for the benefit of others and makes
your influence extend beyond the grave.
A trust set
up while the person is alive is called a "living trust." A trust created
by a will and going into effect after death is called a "testamentary
trust." A trust can be irrevocable so the terms can't be changed--or
living and revocable so adjustments can be made if circumstances change.
A trust can
provide for your children and the future of your grandchildren. It also
can include a provision to take care of your unmarried partner if you
die or are incapacitated.
trusts also keep personal matters confidential. All proceedings in
probate court are a matter of public record, and anyone, including a
nosy neighbor, can trot down to the courthouse and read every detail of
your financial life.
But the most
important aspect of a trust may be the peace of mind it gives your
children: They know exactly where things stand and that the inheritance
won't be squandered.
adult children get pretty selfish," says Garrett, who wrote
Money Without Matrimony with
Debra A. Neiman. "A living trust will let the kids know they'll be taken
care of and put their fears to rest."
A trust isn't
something you can write on the back of an envelope at home. Make a
detailed outline of your wishes and consult an attorney.
establishing a trust isn't cheap--about $1,500 and up. Like a will, a
trust may be updated as circumstances change, and that's an additional
She says that
some younger couples fall into the "invincibility syndrome" and see no
need to plan for the future because they're healthy and can't imagine
becoming sick, let alone dying.
have heard time whistling in their ears and know better. A health care
directive is also part of estate planning and is vital late in life.
a durable power of attorney for health care a key document for anyone,
especially an unmarried couple in their later years.
about death or dying," Garrett says. "It's about taking care of you
while you're living but unable to care for or make decisions for
legally binding document that states that an individual or specific
individuals will make health care decisions for you if you can't make
them for yourself.
a written statement, your partner can't make decisions for you if you
become incapacitated or are seriously injured in an accident--and it
makes no difference if you have been together for years. That
responsibility falls to your family, even if you're estranged and
haven't spoken to them quite some time.
right requires thought and frank discussion with family members and
especially those who remain single, need to think about long-term care
insurance because they won't have a spouse to care for them and may not
have a trusted partner.
people don't want to depend on their children," Garrett says. "And they
shouldn't count on Medicaid."