Lauren Bacall's loss of husband Humphrey Bogart when her children were young points to some of the issues surviving spouses face when there is a significant difference in age. Of course, May-December marriages don't only happen in Hollywood, and the resources and circumstances can be very different.
By Stephen K Lehnardt
Lauren Bacall lost husband Humphrey Bogart when her children were young. When interviewed by Vanity Fair in 2011, she considered herself lucky to be married to Humphrey Bogart, benefitting greatly from his knowledge of Hollywood. Bacall was 25 years younger than Bogart, but she didn't mind the age difference at all. However, losing her husband emphasizes the issues surviving spouses face when there is a significant age difference in the couple.
In May-December marriages, there is a strong possibility one spouse will survive the other by many years. Typically it is an older man and a younger woman, although the opposite as well. Because women generally live longer than men, when the husband is the older spouse, estate planning issues are critical. A young mother with children can be placed in a very tenuous economic position if she has stopped working to raise the family and the husband passes away. A young mom needs a financial plan that contemplates this situation.
A qualified estate planning attorney can help create a comprehensive estate plan that incorporates contingencies for difficult issues affecting the surviving spouse as well as surviving children (including children from different marriages who could be close in age to the new spouse). Talk to your estate planning attorney to see what will work best for you.
Bacall’s estate planning did seem to have a Hollywood ending: she planned it right and was able to divide the majority of her $26.6 million estate between her three children, with $250,000 going to each of her grandsons, $10,000 for the care of her dog, as well as gifts to two of her staffers.
For more information in Liberty, MO and the Kansas City Area about effective planning for your estate and to access free information and tools to organize your estate, visit our elder law and estate planning website.
Reference: MarketWatch (Aug 27, 2014) "Bogie and Bacall: Iconic May-December romance"
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