WTOP Interview: Living Together After 50: Are You Ignoring The Biggest Financial Risks?

Interview Transcript:

Shawn Anderson: Love can happen at any age and it’s happening more frequently for those older than 50 but instead of walking down the aisle many couples are opting to live together. This living arrangement though can have some unintended financial consequence.

Hillary Howard: Well let’s find out more live with Dawn Doebler, co-founder of Her Wealth and Senior Wealth Advisor at The Colony Group. Good to see you Dawn!

Dawn Doebler: Good to see you!

Hillary: So, Her Wealth recently did a survey of older couples who were living together, tell us about those results.

Dawn: Well as part of a segment in August we have talked about a trend that we were seeing at Her Wealth which is women over age 50 are more frequently choosing to live together. So we thought it would be interesting to provide a survey quiz for people to take either alone or with their partner and it was really our way of helping people to get talking about this very important issue that Shawn mentioned, which is that living together can result in unintended financial consequences. So we have a quiz at 6 simple questions about the major financial areas of concern if you are cohabiting. We ended up having about 225 men and women take the survey and so we put the results together and we put it together in the form of an infographic which is on wtop.com. We think the results are really interesting and informative about this particular issue.

Shawn: Now one thing that you found, both women and men were ignoring the biggest financial risks, tell us about some of them and what should couples do about it?

Dawn: Well Shawn what our survey found is most couples do in fact discuss these simple things like how they are going to split their basic expenses but nearly 70% have not planned for or decided who would pay for care if one of them develops health issues or cognitive issues. And we think this is certainly important for people over age 50 because there’s a much higher likelihood of health issues and one thing that the infographic shows is that there are 5.3M people over age 65 living with Alzheimer’s and 62% of them are women.

Another interesting statistic is people over 50 account for more than 60% of disability claims, so it’s a very real concern that, that can happen. And certainly we know if you lose your job over age 50 it can take you longer to get a new job, typically about 40 weeks, so that’s a substantially long period of time to be unemployed. So, we know that people over age 50 are coming to relationships with children, maybe grandchildren from prior relationships, they might have preexisting health considerations and they also usually have greater wealth, so we think it’s important to be discussing these issues that really can put them at risk.

Hillary: Well speaking of that, what do those older couples need to do, what kind of conversations about personal wealth should they have?

Dawn:  Well the first step is one that I kind of already mentioned that is to have a conversation with your partner. Begin to talk about these issues so that it’s not left until something actually happens and the infographic in our articles can help you determine what you should be talking about and kind of walk through that together. And then once you have a meeting of the minds, you can put together a written agreement, and if it’s significant enough you can consider going to an attorney and having agreement written, we did talk about this before, it’s called a “no nup” and it basically says that you agree that you don’t intend to get married and that if something happens, if you either split or one of you dies, you agree not to sue each other or make any claims towards asset. And it also lays out important things that we’ve already talked about, including how do you split things that you’ve acquired together, some things like furniture, pets, boats, cars that you may acquire together, [if] you end up splitting, you really want to protect your own wealth and determine who gets what if something unfortunate happens.

Shawn: Alright Dawn, thanks so much, Dawn Doebler with The Colony Group and you can read more at wtop.com, search Her Wealth.