Prenuptials may need to be part of your wedding plan.
Love In The Golden Years
“Going to the chapel — And we’re gonna to get married… Going to the chapel — And we’re gonna get married… Gee I really love you — And we’re gonna get married… Going to the chapel of love.” -Dixie Cups
Perhaps, again in your life, the time to search for “Mr. or Ms. Right” has come. Maybe you have already found that magic someone — but have you considered the legal consequences of love?
If you are like many, meeting the right person in this day and age may seem impossible. You are not alone in your search, but you must be cautious. Today, many are turning to the Internet and/or joining a dating service to gain assistance in finding their perfect match. Although this may allow you to view a wide range of “profiles” and select from potential companions from the comfort of your home, you should first consider several issues.
First, if you decide to sign up with a dating service you must find out how well your privacy will be protected. In order to find your perfect match it will be necessary to provide a great deal of personal information about yourself. It is of utmost importance that this information does not end up in the wrong hands. Make sure that the company will not be revealing your name, address, or related information that could lead to identity theft or jeopardize your safety.
Second, you need to know what type of commitment the dating service expects from you. Although it is a good idea to have everything in writing, you should never be pressured to sign a contract that you do not fully understand. There may be up-front and hidden costs involved in using a dating service and once you have signed a contract, it may be difficult or impossible to get your money back if you change your mind. Be especially skeptical of companies that will take payment only through credit card or require you to provide your credit card number over through their Internet site.
Currently there are cases and investigations pending which involve scams against seniors by dating services. If you find a service you are interested in, research the company. You may contact the local Better Business Bureau to inquire on any complaints that may have been made against the dating service. You may also contact Attorney General Consumer Protection Division, at 1(800) 432-2310 regarding whether any enforcement action has been taken against the dating service.
If all of this sounds like a stretch or too much of a risk, you may be best served by taking advantage of the many “mixers” and programs offered by your local Area Agency on Aging.
If you decide to tie the knot, now is an important time to ponder your future. Although every couple is unique, many have strong opinions on how their property should be divided in case of a divorce or after death, especially when adult children from a previous relationship are thrown into the mix. By asking each other serious questions now about how you see finances in the marriage, it may save you frustration and money later. Splitting assets and assigning debts before you reserve the wedding hall is tough and unromantic, but you should not be shy about bringing up the subject.
A prenuptial agreement is a private agreement between two persons contemplating marriage. The couple generally settles, in advance, financial matters in case of divorce or death. This contract overrides and preempts state, family and probate laws that otherwise would apply. There are three basic rules that should be followed in order to safeguard your agreement: full and fair disclosure, separate and independent counsel, and ample lead-time before the wedding.
There are certain essential issues you should include in your prenuptial agreement to safeguard your union. Be sure to review the following with your soon-to-be spouse and private attorneys:
1. List all assets, liabilities, income, and expectations of gifts and inheritances.
2. Describe how premarital debts will be paid.
3. Resolve what happens to your premarital property in reference to appreciation, gains, income, rentals, dividends and proceeds of such property- in the event of divorce or death.
4. Decide who, or if both of you, will own the marital residence and secondary homes in the event of divorce or death.
5. Specify the status of gifts, inheritances, and trusts either spouse will receive or benefit from, whether before or after marriage.
6. Clarify what will happen to each type of property, whether jointly or individually owned, such as real estate, artwork and jewelry.
7. Figure out alimony, maintenance, or spousal support, or provide for a waiver or property settlement instead of support (to the extent allowable by law).
8. Detail death benefits, stating what you will provide for in your will.
9. Decide on medical, disability, life or long-term-care insurance coverage.
Although some people may be hesitant to enter a prenuptial agreement, it can allow both you and your future spouse the opportunity to express your aspirations and expectations. However, if you decide that a prenuptial agreement is not in your best interests, then at this time in your life, be sure to evaluate and update your advance directives. As you and your soon-to-be-spouse make a new life together, your Living Will, Durable Power of Attorney, Transfer on Death Deed and Last Will and Testament should reflect this commitment. By virtue, the outcome of a relationship based on reality is stronger than a relationship built on illusion.
Malissa L. Walden, Esq. Copyright 2006