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What complications are possible with '2nd time around' couples?

Love is lovelier the second time around. So Frank Sinatra sang. Many in Texas would likely agree with the sentiment. Considering how much longer we all are living these days it also serves as a particularly hopeful statement about the chances of enjoying happiness with a significant other, no matter how old we are.

Instances of walking down the aisle for a second time are quite common. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, about 20 percent of all weddings occur these days between people who are marrying again. However, some challenging legal questions around property division can develop should the marriage not work or if one spouse should die.

When a couple is first starting out, questions about who owns what and who gets what in the event of death or divorce might not be difficult to sort out. But things may be different if the couple is older and entering into a nuptial contract a second or third time. If children from a previous marriage are in the picture, that's something that likely will need to be addressed. So here are some of nuggets of advice that we think many experts would agree could be useful to those looking for late-life harmony.

  • Be forthright about finances. Failing to have important discussions about what, if anything, is handed on to whom can leave decisions in the hands of the state. That might not reflect everyone's best interests or desires.
  • Get a prenuptial agreement. This can be a particularly awkward issue for older partners. Such things were just not part of the equation in the good old days, but ought to be now to mitigate risk.
  • Draft a will. If you each already have wills, update them to reflect your new status and plans. Otherwise, the state could weigh in and decide something counter to expectations.
  • Check out the effects on Social Security. Depending on your age when you marry for the second time, you could lose survivors benefits you may be enjoying courtesy of your previous spouse. Remarriage could also reduce alimony or pension payments from a past spouse.

Perhaps it's worth asking if you should live together instead of marrying. The point is to ask the questions sooner rather than later. True happiness may depend on the answers.

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