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NS-Elder Remarriage Not Always Best Path
Jan L. Warner & Jan Collins

Question: I am a 67 year old widow of ten years, and have two grown children. I have been seeing a very nice man who is 71, and we have talked about getting married. However, while I am lonely, I am concerned about finances, and the more I read, the more concerned I become. My deceased husband left me fairly well off financially. I have a home, four rental houses, his pension and 401k, and stock/CDís of nearly $500,000.00. My male friend, who has been divorced for six years, rents an apartment and has only Social Security to support himself. I know nothing about his background, and we have not discussed it.

I have heard all of these horror stories of widows remarrying and then being caught up in financial scams, having to pay nursing home and health care expenses for a spouse, and being left destitute. I am really conflicted between my desire for a husband and fear of losing my financial security. Is there any type of premarital agreement we can sign to allay my fears?

Answer: No agreement between you and your friend will absolve you youíre your responsibility for his health care or nursing home expenses if you and he get married.

While a properly signed premarital agreement giving full financial disclosure can help protect your assets in case of divorce or your death, it will not protect your assets from health and nursing home expenses associated with your potential husband because of laws requiring each spouse to be responsible for the otherís ďnecessariesĒ Ė which included health care expenses.

Failure to discuss finances before even thinking about a second marriage is, in our view, a big mistake. First, you need to find out about your intendedís financial and other background as possible. Second, if you are satisfied with what you find out Ė assuming you are still serious, your should find ways in which to try protect your assets from his potential long-term care and related expenses.

One example is to see if he will qualify for long-term care insurance and, if so, the high premium cost that you will have to shoulder because he obviously canít afford it. If he does not qualify or if you are not willing to pay the premium cost, we donít believe there is another way to protect your assets. We would not recommend that you give your assets to your children or create an irrevocable trust into which you could transfer your assets because you would basically be losing control of what is important to you.

If you canít find a suitable way to protect your assets, then you must make the decision as to whether you are willing to risk your financial security on a decision to marry. While we understand you are lonely, we donít believe the stars will align. However, you need not stop your relationship if you choose not to marry, If he is not willing to continue seeing you without marriage, then your question will be answered.

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