Golden Bachelor or Gold Digger?

goldbarMany viewers have been intrigued by the popular television series The Golden Bachelor, in which an older widower selected the second love of his life as his fiancee.  The widower was portrayed as absent from the dating scene after the death of his wife.  On the eve of the final episode, an article was published describing the bachelor’s relationship after the death of his wife with a live-in girlfriend and unsavory details about the golden bachelor (Gerry).  For instance, Gerry’s thrifty side allegedly caused him to “go dutch” on all expenses and activities with his girlfriend.

One distinguishing factor between the show’s two finalists (Leslie and Theresa) was that Theresa may be wealthy.  During their last date, Gerry asked Theresa about her professional life.  She stated that she was a homemaker before she dappled in the stock market.  She was successful trading stocks for herself and then started a career as a financial services professional.  Gerry, who has been reported to have a questionable professional history, was quite impressed by this information.  Perhaps the golden bachelor is actually a gold digger seeking wealth.  This post will examine estate matters to be addressed on behalf of older individuals such as Gerry and Theresa, aged 72 and 70 respectively.

A newly engaged couple with children and grandchildren from a prior marriage should seek the advice of an experienced attorney.  It would be prudent to draft estate documents whereby the second spouse would not inherit outright, but would receive income during lifetime from assets held in a testamentary trust, with the balance to be delivered to the children or grandchildren of the first marriage.  This plan will protect the spouse’s family of the first marriage from a second spouse who may be motivated by acquiring wealth from the new spouse.

It would also be sensible to have attorneys document the assets that each person owned before the marriage as well as each person’s contributions to major purchases during the marriage.  While a spouse cannot be disinherited, having such documents may be helpful if the marriage is dissolved or in the event of a contested estate in the future.

Another issue to consider is the primary residence of the couple.  Venue for the estate to be probated or administered will be determined by the primary residence of the person to pass away.  For instance, Gerry has a home in Indiana, Theresa resides in New Jersey and the couple reportedly intends to buy a home in South Carolina.  Perhaps each estate may be handled in South Carolina, while each person has maintained their home in Indiana or New Jersey.  In such a case, an ancillary proceeding will be necessary to dispose of the property in the other state.

We look forward to the televised wedding to take place next month and are available to advise those entering second marriages as to estate planning mechanisms that are protective of their entire extended family.

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