Late-in-Life Marriage – Protect Your Family Jun 28, 2013

Al and Eileen met at their local seniors’ centre. Both were widowed; both loved to dance; both occasionally dealt with nagging health problems; both were in their eighties.

For two years, they kept each other company, helped each other with medical appointments, and encouraged each other through bouts of cancer. Then they decided that they wanted to spend their remaining days together, and so they planned to marry.

But each was concerned about how to protect the assets accumulated with their first spouse for the benefit of their children from that first marriage. After all, they were quite happy to share what they had with each other while they remained together; however, they agreed that that it wouldn’t be appropriate or fair to see a lifetime’s worth of wealth, accumulated in a first marriage, be diverted from the children of that marriage, and end up with the children of the “new” spouse.

So they decided to visit a lawyer and ask what could be done.

The answer was found in the way their new wills were to be prepared. They didn’t use the normal spousal wills which leave everything to the spouse on death. Instead, Al’s new will set out a distribution scheme providing gifts directly to his three children, and to his grandchildren if any of his children predeceased him. Eileen’s new will was similar. This way, their respective families would find themselves in the same positions they would have been in absent this late-in-life marriage.

As it turned out, Al’s wealth was greater than Eileen’s, and so he was quite prepared to shoulder more of the household expenses during their marriage. And, he wanted to provide some help for her after his death, should that occur first. But how could he do that without compromising his plan to have his estate go to his children?

Again, the answer was to be found in his new will. The will established a trust in a specified amount in favour of Eileen for the balance of her life, with the income from that trust being used to benefit Eileen. After her death, the funds in the trust would revert to the residue of Al’s estate, and be distributed among his family in the same manner as the balance of his estate would be on his death.

Now Al and Eileen were content that their wishes would be respected, and they could once again dance the nights away at the seniors’ centre.