How to secure your finances when committing to a new partner
The thought of having to secure your finances when committing to a new partner can be daunting for some. Just because you’re venturing into later life doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be seeking happiness through relationships – and most seniors in Australia agree. In fact, 94% of seniors over 50 years old say they need love the same way young people do – and 78% say they are more likely to be dating these days than in the past.1
Love doesn’t discriminate by age. If you’re in your 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s or even 90s, you’re just as likely to find your soulmate as anyone else. But just as a younger couple takes steps to protect their finances when getting into a serious relationship, so too should Australian seniors.
While not nice to think about, the elderly are more susceptible to financial abuse – whether it’s from a friend or family member, or a relatively new partner.2 Because of this – and because you may be seeing your new love interest through rose-tinted glasses in the early weeks and months – it’s vital that you take care of your finances before starting a serious relationship later in life.
Invest in professional advice
There are a few different ways you can go about seeking professional advice to secure your finances.
If you already have a solicitor, accountant or financial planner who looks after all your legal and financial matters, they will be a great resource to discuss your current situation. Both legal and financial experts will be able to consider the state of your new relationship in terms of your personal finances. They will then be able to walk you through the appropriate steps to secure those assets.
Alternatively, there are numerous online resources to get your started on your journey. If you’re looking to understand your financial rights during retirement, the Australian Human Rights Commission has an informative publication that could assist you on your journey.
Facts about sharing money
Your new partner might be perfect for you in every way – their interests, their family, their goals for the future. But have you spoken to them about their finances? Sometimes it can be a touchy subject, but it’s important you are both on the same page moving forward. Discuss the following crucial issues:3
- What are your financial goals? Do you want to spend money travelling, or would you prefer investing? Do you even share the same financial goals?
- What’s your financial situation? Work out your monthly expenses and any debts, and also consider your assets. Will combining your finances make life easier or more complicated?
- How do you treat spending and saving? Are you both spenders or savers? Is one of you keen on investing and the other happy to splurge on something on the spur of the moment? Try to find common ground to work together.
- Who will be the financial ‘controller’? Who will be responsible for handling most of the finances? This is key, as clarifying the ‘controller’ may avoid arguments down the track.
Is a prenup on the cards?
You might think it’s only for the young or the rich, but a prenuptial agreement is considered fairly standard these days. Indeed, a 2016 survey found that 60% of Australians would be happy to sign a prenup, and a further 20% would be open to it.4
For seniors looking to marry, a prenup could be exactly what you need to ease any financial stress and protect the assets you’ve acquired over the years. Of course it’s important to discuss this with your partner before serving them with the paperwork!
Update your legal documents
Particularly if you’re getting married, you need to update all your pertinent legal documents, such as your will, and ensure all your beneficiaries are verified. You can learn more about the importance of updating and maintaining your will in later life.
Beware of financial abuse
None of us want to believe someone we love could take advantage of us, but it’s an unfortunate fact that the elderly are more prone to financial abuse. Be careful if:5
- Another person is controlling your bank accounts or household money.
- Someone is taking out loans and/or incurring debt in your name.
- Someone is selling your assets and/or property without your permission.
You can contact the NSW Elder Abuse Helpline & Resource Unit, or your state’s entity, for more information.
Always have an exit strategy!
As with most things in life – business and relationships included – having an exit strategy is a smart move. You can’t predict where your life will take you or whether a whirlwind romance will continue on for years to come. Even if you are both on the same page about your finances today, that doesn’t mean you will stay together indefinitely.
Speak with a solicitor or financial planner to put together an exit strategy that suits your lifestyle. Hopefully you won’t need it – but in case you do, at least your finances will be secure.
Committing to a new partner in the later stages of life can be an exciting time. With careful consideration and attention to detail, you can secure the assets you’ve worked hard for to help ensure smooth sailing.
Planning is important at any age
As a new couple, it is very important to keep an eye on any changes in legislation that may affect the size and performance of your savings. Get advice, if necessary, on the income streams that may be available to you both in your later years, along with any investment options that could support your plans as a couple.
It’s never too late to start thinking about the future, although the earlier you start planning, the better. Make wise decisions when you’re dating and take away one of the potential headaches of a new relationship. Head to the Australian Seniors superannuation page for more information on superannuation.
3 Apr 2019