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Should I get Remarried? Elder Law Issues Surrounding Remarriage (Part 2 of 2)

By Ann Salek

May 2, 2019

A second marriage later in life can trigger several issues regarding who will receive assets upon one spouse’s death. However, additional issues may arise related to a spouse needing long term care (nursing home/assisted living).

As people age, their mental capacity may diminish due to dementia, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, stroke, etcetera. In such a scenario, the person should have certain Powers of Attorney in place. Issues often arise when determining who should be that Power of Attorney. Should a relatively new spouse serve in that role or should a child from a previous marriage serve? If a court guardianship needs to be implemented, even more complicated issues arise regarding who should serve.

When determining how to pay for long term care, a patient as well as their spouse may become liable for the cost of long term care. This is the case even if a pre-nuptial agreement states that each spouse will keep their assets separate. For example, in determining whether a patient qualifies for Medicaid benefits to assist in paying for long term care, both spouses’ assets are counted. This is true regardless of whether or not the spouses agreed to keep assets separate or both agreed to be liable for their own cost of care. Without specific planning otherwise, assets of one spouse become susceptible to being spent for the long term care of the other spouse.

On a more positive note, marriage to a veteran may allow the spouse of a veteran to qualify for certain benefits in the future. The widow of a veteran may qualify for benefits called Aid and Attendance that may assist in the cost of long term care. In such a case the remarriage may be a significant benefit to a future widow.

While remarriage can trigger many significant issues, most can be overcome with proper planning. A second marriage can be a wonderful time in life. The spouses just need to address the potential pitfalls and make sure an appropriate plan is in place to address those hazards.

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