Dear Carrie: I'm a 62-year-old widow and plan to remarry next year. My children are concerned about protecting my savings. What precautions should I take, and how can I keep my fiance from feeling that I don't trust him? --A ReaderDear Reader: There's a lot of sensitivity around money and marriage at any age. In your circumstance, as a widow with whom I'm assuming are grown children, feelings can run even higher. Chances are, you're not just dealing with dollars, you're dealing with emotion and your children's attachment to their father's memory.
If your children are open to your remarriage and genuinely concerned about your financial wellbeing, that should make things a bit easier. But no matter what their concerns, you and your fiance need to have an open and honest discussion about your mutual finances so that each of you is protected.
Consider a Prenuptial Agreement
Joining lives and money when you're older -- especially the second time around -- can be complicated. And if one or both of you are bringing substantial assets into the marriage, seriously consider working with an attorney to write a prenuptial agreement.
Even if you decide against a formal legal document, openly discussing your finances and putting your decisions in some type of written format is essential. It should also allay some of your children's worries.
As you mention, you also want to be sensitive to your fiance's feelings. When you bring up the topic of money, make sure he understands that it's not a question of distrust, it's a question of understanding and future harmony.
Sit down together in a comfortable environment and approach this as partners. Agree to listen to each other and honor each other's concerns. Complete disclosure is essential.
Here are some questions you should answer now so they don't become problems later on:
--Will you keep assets separate? You can consider all assets acquired before the marriage separate and those acquired after marriage joint. Alternatively, you can continue to keep all assets separate. It's a good idea to consult an attorney so that you clearly understand the laws in your state regarding property ownership, including issues like commingling.
--What will you do with your homes? Will you sell your current homes and share equity in a new home? If one of you moves into the other's home, will you change the title to joint ownership? If you keep your home, and you want your children to inherit it, ask your attorney about the safeguards needed to maintain individual ownership. In any case, an attorney can help both of you protect your interests.