According to the U.S. Census Bureau the number of senior couples choosing to cohabitate instead of marry (or remarry) has risen significantly. There are quite a few reasons why senior couples might choose not to tie the knot:
* Tax disincentives
* Loss of military and pension benefits
* Reduced Social Security Benefits
* Keeping medical expenses separate
* Keeping any current debt separate
* Asset protection for the benefit of children or grandchildren
If you decide against marriage, you will need to take extra steps to protect your partner and preserve spousal privileges that you would like your partner to have. For example, in case of accident or emergency, do you want your partner to have the same access to medical information that a spouse would have? Do you want your partner to have a voice in making medical decisions if you are unable to do so?
Seniors will also want to consider the subject of real property and living arrangements. If something were to happen to you or your partner, would your surviving partner be able to remain in the home? If you have taken out a Reverse Mortage, your death would trigger lender demand for payoff of the entire loan, which would likely force a sale of the home. Would he or she at least have time to find another living situation? Most people would like to think that relatives who inherit shared property will be compassionate toward their surviving partner, but this is not always the case.
Fortunately, there are ways for seniors who choose to cohabitate without marrying to arrange their affairs in such a way that they preserve the benefits of staying legally single, but provide their partner with some spousal benefits. The best way to do this is by creating an estate plan that recognizes your partner as your agent and/or beneficiary. Whether your partner is opposite sex or same sex, creating appropriate estate planning documents is the way to go.