The US Census Report has confirmed what we have all suspected; more and more seniors are living together without first getting married. In fact the number of seniors age 65 and above living together has more than tripled in just the last decade. Actual numbers may be even larger, considering the social taboos within the senior community against cohabiting couples.
While a majority of seniors still regard marriage as important, the increasing trend in cohabiting reflects a more relaxed attitude towards marriage. Only half of all adults reported being married during the 2010 Census, but nearly sixty percent of adults stated they lived with a partner.
For seniors, it’s not just changing social mores. Money concerns often overshadow marriage considerations. Many widows and widowers would forfeit retirement survivor’s benefits or Social Security benefits if they were to remarry. Additionally, children by prior marriages often complicate estate planning.
Significantly, with remarriage come legal obligations for support and care. If a spouse becomes ill and requires long-term care, the cost of nursing care, now more than $70,000 per year, falls upon the combined finances of the family, potentially impoverishing the family.
Sometimes our clients suggest they have a “common law” marriage. Nevada, however, has not recognized common law relationships for nearly 90 years and our statutes expressly reject common law marriages. What Nevada does have are excellent prenuptial laws. Seniors considering remarriage should always have a prenuptial agreement.
Yes, there is an unromantic element to a prenuptial agreement, but for most seniors cohabiting or married; their relationship is based upon companionship and sharing experiences with a sense of belonging and connection with another person.
If you are a senior and are considering remarriage, you should consult with your partner the wisdom of a prenuptial agreement. Here at Jeffrey Burr, we have helped hundreds of senior couples plan for the legal complexities of either cohabitating or remarriage.
- Attorney James M. O'Reilly