Estate Planning Considerations for Couples with an Age Gap from Austin Estate Planning Attorney Liz Nielsen

Age Gap

With couples of similar ages, planning for the future is naturally a joint effort. However, if your marriage has a sizeable age gap, meaning you are married to someone who is significantly older or younger than you, the future can look different and mean different things to each of you. To protect yourself, your spouse, and other loved ones, it’s best to craft comprehensive financial and estate plans. For these plans to work as intended, it is important that you have an open and honest conversation with your spouse about the following financial and estate planning topics.

Views on Employment

Because you may rely on a job to provide you and your spouse with health insurance and income, and a job can take up a large amount of your time, it is important to discuss these questions about the future of your employment.

  • Is one or both of you currently working? If you are both working and bringing in an income, your lifestyle may change if one or both of you decide to retire or stop working in the near future.
  • After both of you are retired or no longer working, what do you want to do with your time? If one of you wants to travel while the other aspires to start a business, you may conflict as to what you are going to be doing together as a couple.

Managing Your Finances

Retiring or stopping your employment means losing one type of income. For many, their retirement accounts will provide a large portion of the money they will be living on during their retirement; however, this does not happen overnight, it takes advance planning. It is important that, as a married couple, you discuss the following topics to ensure your financial security:

  • If you are currently working, when do you see yourself retiring? If you are planning to retire soon, it is crucial to meet with your financial planner to make sure your finances are in order and that you can afford to stop receiving a paycheck.
  • Is there a period of time when both of you will be retired or not working? Depending on your current income needs, if neither of you is working, will you have enough money from other sources to support your lifestyle?
  • Do you have a plan for when you are going to withdraw the required minimum distributions from your retirement accounts? If you are unsure, talk with your financial advisor. They can advise you on the best strategy given your current account balances and desires for the future.
  • Is the younger spouse anticipating using the retirement funds from the older spouse for their lifetime as well? Is there enough money to do so?

Estate Planning Considerations

Crafting an estate plan is the best way to guarantee that those people you love are taken care of. If you do not create your own estate plan, don’t worry, Texas’ intestacy laws will determine who gets your money and property, and how much they’ll get. Those same laws will also determine who will make decisions for you in the event you become incapacitated (meaning you cannot make or communicate decisions for yourself). As you review or begin your estate plan, the following questions will touch on some of the more crucial issues you need to consider.

  • Who will serve as your trusted decisionmakers (executor, successor trustee, agent under a financial power of attorney, and agent under a medical power of attorney)? Because of your age difference, it is prudent to name alternates to these positions in the event your first choice (usually your spouse) cannot act on your behalf. If you have children from a previous relationship, you may also want to consider if and in what order you want to name them to one of these important decision-making roles.
  • Whom do you want to name as your beneficiary upon your death? If that person is your spouse, do you want them to receive the inheritance outright or in trust? If you want to give an inheritance to your children, will this be immediately available upon your death or unavailable until after your surviving spouse’s death?
  • Do you have children from your current marriage? Will they be treated the same as children from a previous relationship, or will they receive preferential treatment?

Final Thoughts

These are just some of the questions you and your spouse should be considering as you plan for your future. If you have any questions about drafting an estate plan with these in mind, or if you are ready to take the next steps in updating your estate plan, let us help craft a plan to fit your family. Nielsen Law PLLC provides family focused estate planning to individuals and families in Austin, Round Rock, Cedar Park, and the Central Texas area.  For more information and to learn about our firm, please contact us.