The Age Gap is Growing

The age gap between couples is getting larger. In 2014, the average age gap in heterosexual couples was only 2.3 years. Today, about 8% of couples have a gap of 10 years or more.

And living in California, you see this trend every day with famous couples.

  • Jerry and Jessica Seinfeld, married in 1999, have three kids and a 17-year age gap.
  • Kevin Costner and Christine Baumgartner, married in 2004, have three kids and a 20-year age gap.
  • Princess Charlene and Prince Albert of Monaco, married in 2011, have twins and a 20-year age gap.
  • Alec and Hilaria Baldwin, married in 2012, have five kids and a 26-year age gap.

The number age gap couples is increasing with celebrity and everyday couples. And while we may not choose who we love or their ages, a significant age gap between couples is a crucial factor in financial and estate planning.

For these plans to work as intended, you must have an open and honest conversation with your spouse about the following financial and estate planning topics.

Employment in Age Gap Couples

Many non-celebrity, everyday couples rely on jobs for their income and health insurance. Jobs and careers can take up a large amount of your time, and it is essential to discuss the factors of your ongoing and future employment.

●      Are either of you currently working? Suppose you are both working and bringing income into your family finances. Your lifestyle may change if one or both of you decide to retire or stop working soon.

●      What are your plans when one of you, or both of you, retire? How do you plan to spend your time? Do you both want to travel? Does one of you want to start a business? Will the children be out of the home and financially independent by then?

Managing Finances for Age Gap Couples

Retiring or leaving your employment usually means the loss of significant income. Your retirement accounts customarily provide a large portion of the money you will be living on during your retirement.

However, having a successful retirement plan in place does not happen overnight and takes detailed and advanced planning. Couples must discuss the following topics to ensure their financial security:

  • If you are currently working, when will you retire? 
  • What is the status of your retirement accounts, and is your plan on target?
  • Is your retirement account susceptible to the stock market, inflation, and economic fluctuations?
  • If you plan to retire soon, have you met with a financial advisor and estate planning attorney to ensure you have a sound economic and legally protected plan?
  • When will you both be retired, and does your plan include the need to increase income so you can support your lifestyle?
  • Will you live off the income of the retirement accounts, or will you need to draw down the funds over your retirement?
  • When the older spouse retires, will the younger spouse keep working, or do you need to draw on the retirement account for daily expenses?
  • Does the retirement plan include enough assets and life insurance to ensure enough funds for the surviving spouse?

Estate Planning for Age Gap Couples

Comprehensive estate planning with a qualified California estate attorney is the best way to ensure your family will be taken care of in case of the loss of either spouse.

But estate planning for age gap couples has a few additional factors.

Typically, the elder spouse pre-deceases the younger spouse. But this is not always the case, and estate planning must cover all possibilities.

And often, the elder spouse handles the finances during their lifetimes, and the younger surviving spouse is unfamiliar with the financial intricacies of the income sources and how to best manage them.

But the most serious mistake made by couples is having no will or estate planning at all. And sadly, this is the case for more than 50% of Americans.

When a spouse dies with no will, the state determines what happens to the estate. And by that time, it is too late to take advantage of estate planning strategies to make sure your assets and income are distributed according to your wishes.

As you begin your estate plan, the following questions will touch on some of the more crucial issues you need to consider:

  • Who will be your trusted decision-makers (executor or personal representative, successor trustee, agent under a financial power of attorney, and agent under a medical power of attorney)? In age-gap couples, it is prudent to name alternates to these positions if your first choice (usually your spouse) cannot act on your behalf. If you have children from a previous relationship, consider what roles you want for them in any decision-making.
  • Who should be your beneficiaries upon your death? If that person is your spouse, do you want them to receive the inheritance outright or in trust? Suppose 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 marri and other relationships.? Will all children be treated the same, or are there varying wishes and circumstances?

Your Next Best Steps

As an age gap couple, you have additional factors to consider. And wills and trusts are powerful estate planning tools you can use to ensure your assets are distributed in the future according to your wishes.

Let us show you how to plan your will and trusts to protect your family. Although California trusts and estate law may be complicated, this is all we do. San Diego Legacy Law, PC is a qualified estate planning attorney firm in San Diego, California. We are familiar with all federal and California estate and trust laws. We know how to best help you achieve your estate planning goals, especially how to use trusts and wills to ensure your wishes.

Call today for a free consultation and learn your next best steps.

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