Do you need a prenup for your ‘grey’ marriage?

Last year, Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos and his wife MacKenzie ended their 25-year marriage, joining hundreds of thousands of other couples who’ve obtained a “grey divorce” after age 50.

Even after MacKenzie walked away with shares of Amazon.com valued at $38 billion, Jeff remains the world’s wealthiest person with his $115 billion stake in the company. But if Jeff remarries, he’ll very likely get a prenuptial agreement that lays out in advance exactly what the new spouse would be entitled to should that marriage break up too. If you are in your 50s or older and you’re getting married, you should also consider a prenup because divorce can be economically devastating, particularly if you don’t have the resources of a Jeff Bezos.

Here are some things to think about when considering a “grey” prenup.

First, ignore any negative stigma associated with prenuptial agreements. Many people mistakenly believe a prenup means you either don’t trust your new spouse or you’re entering into the marriage with an eye toward divorce. The reality is that a prenup underscores that a late-in-life marriage is a serious commitment. People likely have significantly more assets to protect than they did when they were younger and they are more likely to have other obligations, like child support or alimony, that would give them even more reason to protect those assets. Additionally, they’re likely to have children and grandchildren to whom they will want to leave their assets.

A prenup can be a useful financial planning vehicle as you move into a new marriage. For one thing, you can use a prenuptial agreement to address the financial well-being of both you and your soon-to-be spouse in the event of a divorce, while ensuring each of you has assets to leave to your respective children. This can do a lot to head off potential tensions associated with blended families. Without such an agreement, an estate plan can be altered at any time, creating the potential for additional conflict and strife should the marriage end.

A prenup is potentially a good way to plan for your retirement. If you’re already past 50 when you marry, there’s a good chance your retirement assets will be supporting you sooner rather than later. If you both have retirement assets, you can decide in your prenup which spouse’s assets will be used for living expenses and whose assets you might delay receiving for tax purposes. Meanwhile, you can also build into the prenup arrangements how retirement accounts will be divided between a surviving spouse and the deceased spouse’s children to ensure both are taken care of.

These are just a few things to consider. If you do decide to get a prenup for your later-in-life marriage, it’s important to have a family lawyer who is experienced in drafting these types of agreements represent you. It’s also important that you each have your own separate attorney to make sure both your interests are being represented adequately. This should lead to a fairer agreement and one that’s less vulnerable to challenge should it ever need to be enforced. Talk to a family law attorney where you live to learn more.

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