When you’re about to tie the knot, it’s important to get on the same page financially as your significant other. Otherwise, you could run into some problems, as financial conflicts are often cited as one of the biggest reasons couples get divorced.
But if you’re about to get married for a second time, discussing finances and altering your financial plan can become even more important. This time around, you’re older, likely have more money, and maybe even have some children to consider. And your new spouse could even be in the same boat.
So, before you’re about to tie the knot again, here are six financial considerations for second marriages.
Be Completely Open & Honest
This is the most important consideration, and that’s why it’s listed first. Honesty is an important part of any successful marriage, but especially for second marriages, and especially when it comes to finances. It might seem daunting to share 100% of your financial picture with your partner, but hiding aspects of your finances from your partner now can set you up for failure later. This means coming clean about both your assets and your liabilities. You might have a healthy checking account, 401(k) and IRA, but what about your debts? Are you still paying off a mortgage? Do you have a monthly car payment? These all need to be discussed to paint the clearest financial picture for your new marriage.
Think About Getting a Prenup
Discussing a prenuptial agreement might be a difficult conversation to have. When you’re in the throes of newfound love, it might seem counterproductive to make plans for what happens to your assets if the marriage fails. But the harsh reality is that the divorce rate actually goes up amongst couples who have been married more than once. And whether it’s your first marriage or your fifth, the divorce rate in the U.S. still hovers around 50%. As you get older and (hopefully) accumulate more wealth, you want to make sure you—and even your beneficiaries/heirs—are protected if this new marriage fails. That’s why a prenup is something that’s at least worth considering and discussing.
Determine What’s Yours, Mine & Ours
Some couples swear by having all their income in one account. Others can’t imagine losing the independence that comes with being in control of their own finances. Maybe you did one or the other in your first marriage, but in a second marriage, it’s pretty common to see a combination of the two. It’s likely that both you and your new spouse have amassed some amount of personal wealth and will want to retain control of that money. In the “combo” scheme, each person has their own accounts, but you can create a separate pooled account to pay for joint expenses like bills, mortgage payments, vacation funds, etc. There’s no right or wrong answer here—every couple is different.
Don’t Forget About the Kids
Kids can be a sticky subject in a second marriage. Whether you’re both coming into the marriage with kids or only one of you is, blending families can be difficult—and that’s before you factor in the financial considerations. That’s why you need to be upfront with how much you spend on your children. From child support and medical bills, to paying for school supplies and sports, your partner should know how much money you allocate to your kids. This also goes for college savings: If you’re regularly contributing to a 529 plan, your partner should know about it.
Rethink Beneficiary Designations
One of the more overlooked aspects of estate planning is designating beneficiaries to your retirement accounts. You might think that updating your will to reflect any life changes will be sufficient, but beneficiary designations actually supersede what’s listed in your will. Maybe your previous spouse was the named beneficiary of your 401(k) or IRAs. If you don’t update those beneficiary designations, your ex could actually inherit the assets in those accounts. Additionally, if you have a life insurance policy with an ex-spouse that pays out to the children you share with that ex, as part of a divorce settlement, you may have to keep that life insurance policy. If this is the case, consider getting a second life insurance policy with your new spouse, or even think about something like an irrevocable life insurance trust (ILIT).
Update the Rest of Your Estate Plan
Once beneficiary designations are settled, it’s time to update the rest of your estate plan. In addition to your will, you’ll want to reevaluate other documents like power of attorney and health care directives. If your children are older, you may even want to consider naming them in some of these instances instead of your new spouse, especially if your new spouse is the same age as you. You could also look into establishing a trust (or trusts), as these can help ensure your assets are distributed to your exact wishes as your family continues to grow. Something like a QTIP trust can even protect your assets if your new spouse outlives you, inherits your assets, and wants to bequeath them to someone outside your family.
While these are all great things to consider, this list is in no way exhaustive. If you’re about to remarry, reach out to a financial advisor to help make sure you have all your bases covered.
This information is not intended to be a substitute for individualized legal advice. Please consult your legal advisor regarding your specific situation.
CFP® A Jacksonville native, Bill has been helping people make wise financial decisions as an independent financial advisor since 1989. Prior to becoming an advisor, he studied business at Jacksonville University and the University of North Florida and worked for more than a decade in the banking industry. In 1990, he founded Financial and Retirement Strategies and began to work with many of the same individuals who remain clients to this day. Bill joined Wealth Enhancement Group...Read More