Elder law attorneys have noticed an interesting trend emerging among senior citizens with regard to marriage. Many of our elders have lost their spouses, and some have gone through divorces. It can be quite uplifting to meet someone new and enter into a committed relationship later in life.
Typically committed relationships culminate in marriage. However, statistics are indicating that an increasing number of senior citizens who are involved in live-in relationships are deciding not to get married.
The reasons are varied. Some are reluctant to get married because they want to make sure they have total control over their assets so they can provide for their children come what may. Of course prenuptial agreements can be entered into but some people decide to resolve the situation by not getting married.
There are those who don’t get married because of the fact that they would lose pension benefits. Some older Americans would lose Social Security survivor’s benefits. It should be noted that you would not lose survivor’s benefits if you were to wait until you are at least 60 to get remarried.
Medicaid eligibility can also be a factor. If you were to get married the assets of both spouses are countable assets. If you marry your financial holdings could suddenly increase, and this could impact your ability to qualify for Medicaid if you were to attempt to use the program to pay for long-term care.
Those who choose not to get married for one reason or another must certainly make sure they have the proper estate planning documents in place because there is no protection via intestacy rules of succession (where the Oklahoma probate court gets involved and ultimately distributes your resources in accordance with the accepted intestacy rules of succession – NOT your wishes). If you are going through life without an estate plan as an unmarried person in a committed relationship you may be putting your partner at risk.
Author, President and Founding Attorney
Parman & Easterday