“Re-Partnering”? (As Opposed To Re-Marrying)…A Growing Trend Among Older Couples

August 21, 2018 | posted in: Blog, Financial Insights | by
In recent years we were introduced to the concept of “conscious uncoupling” (divorce!) and now demographers are studying “re-partnering” and its rise among older Americans. “Grey divorce” has doubled since the 1990’s and the number of people over 50 who cohabit with unmarried partners has jumped 75% from 2007-2016, per a recent Pew Research report.* Unlike youthful cohabitation, which is often a prelude to marriage, it seems that in later life, making it official doesn’t always hold the same attraction.
While many see financial advantages to remaining unmarried, as financial advisors we stress that without proper estate planning and documentation of desires, unmarried couples are particularly vulnerable to default state laws that determine who can make financial and health care decisions for incapacitated persons, and to whom property devolves in the absence of a valid will or revocable trust. In addition to establishing wills and health care advance directives, these are among the additional steps frequently put in place for unmarried partners:

  • Powers Of Attorney: Without one, hospitals may restrict access to a person who is incapacitated or in serious condition to family members.
  • The Life Estate: Protecting a partner’s right to remain in a shared home, a life estate deed enables a surviving partner with no ownership in a shared home to live in the home until he/she dies or moves into a nursing home.  In some cases, the agreement will set aside money to cover expenses.
  • Designated Beneficiaries: For assets such as life insurance, IRAs, annuities and certain pension plans a review of beneficiary designations is critical to ensure assets do not fall into the hands of unintended beneficiaries.
  • Life Planning – A Domestic Partnership Agreement:  Similar to a pre- or post-nuptial agreement, a domestic partnership cohabitation agreement outlines how assets/income will be handled during the relationship and if the relationship ends.