Estate PlanninG

Estate Planning Questions to Consider for Couples With an Age Gap

Planning for the future is important for couples of any age, but especially important if your partner is significantly older or younger than you. This is because the future can look and mean something different to each of you.

To protect yourself, your spouse, and other loved ones, you’ll need to have comprehensive financial and estate plans. That means you’ll have to get comfortable having open and honest conversations with your partner.

What are your views on employment?

A job not only takes up a large amount of time, but it could also be providing you and your spouse with health insurance and significant income. That’s why it’s important to discuss the following questions about the future of your employment:

  • Are either of you currently working? If you are both bringing in an income, recognize that your lifestyle may change if one or both of you decide to retire or stop working in the future.

  • What would you like to do with your time when you’re no longer working? If one of you wants to travel while the other has dreams of launching a new business, there may be some conflict.

How will you manage your finances?

As you know, retiring 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 takes a lot of advance planning.

Discuss the following topics with your spouse to ensure your financial security:

  • When do you see yourself retiring? If the answer is soon, meet with your financial planner to make sure your finances are in order, and that you can afford to stop receiving a paycheck.

  • Will there be a period of time when both of you will be retired or not working? Depending on your current income needs, if neither of you are working, will you have enough money 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’re 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 Questions

Creating an estate plan is the most effective way to ensure those you love are taken care of. If you don’t create an estate plan, California’s laws will determine who gets your money and property when you die, as well as who will make decisions on your behalf if you’re no longer able to.

As you review or begin your estate plan, ask yourself and your spouse the following crucial questions:

  • Who will serve as your trusted decisionmakers (executor or personal representative, 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?

These are just some of the questions you should be considering as you plan for your future with your spouse. When you’re ready to take the next steps in crafting your estate plan, give us a call to set up a free consultation. Call Santaella Legal Group, serving San Ramon, Danville, Dublin, Pleasanton & the Tri-Valley area, at (925) 831-4840.

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