The Intricacies of marriage and/or living with your partner later in life
While more and more older women are choosing to live with their partners, it doesn’t mean that there is a rise in marriage among this group of individuals. In fact, many older adults are delaying a trip to the altar or putting it off entirely.
A recent poll from the Pew Research Center reports that the number of people age 50 and older who live together with their unmarried partner increased by 75% between 2007 and 2016. A decade ago, 2.3 million mature unmarried adults were cohabitating and now that number is 4 million. That is almost a quarter of all adults who live together.
This is a faster increase than any other age group, and when coupled with rising divorce rates, it is anticipated that the number will continue to rise as Baby Boomers reach retirement age.
The majority of these mature couples were previously married and either divorced (55%) or widowed (13%). The number of widowed cohabiters doubled (27%) for those over age 65. A quarter of cohabiters over 50 (27%) have never married.
Many of those who are widowed and subsequently choose to cohabitate with a partner are women. When asked, many of these women give a variety of reasons for wanting to remain coupled but unmarried, and many of those reasons were financially oriented. These reasons included; wanting to keep finances separate and maintaining financial independence, possible loss of income, not wanting to complicate their estate planning process (which often includes children from previous marriages), and not wanting to impact Medicaid eligibility.
By living together later in life, many of these couples are reaping the health and economic benefits marriage offers without the involvement of the law. Cohabitation brings with it companionship and a wider social circle. Pooling financial resources can improve seniors’ economic stability, especially for women who are at a higher risk for poverty.
Ultimately, the path you choose to take in your relationship is shaped by many factors ranging from cultural to financial to just plain logic and love. Every couple will have different reasons for making the choices they do. Whether you tie the knot, or not, it is important to have confidence in the choice you’ve made from a planning perspective. At Northstar, we specialize in the unique circumstances that women experience throughout their lives. Should you find the need to speak with a financial advisor, we look forward to engaging in a dialogue and process of creating a plan specifically designed with your wealth and well-being in mind.
Written by Robin Young, CFP®