By Joanna Lyn Grama
About the Article
Amid reports of a growing senior population and a lengthening average lifespan, Joanna Grama explores the peculiar problems and pitfalls of romantic relationships while advancing in years. Various deterrents to marriage are of particular concern to seniors, including problems of wealth preservation from the significant other, avoidance of the other’s financial obligations related to health care and other debts, protection of pension benefits from previous marriages, protection against intestate succession, and interactions with adult children. Ms. Grama notes that alternatives to marriage, such as cohabitation, are gaining cultural acceptance and possess certain advantages that make them appear to be preferable at first glance. Yet such alternatives, she argues, pose problems of their own, though not necessarily insurmountable. Within the bonds of marriage, Ms. Grama maintains, effective means already exist that are sufficient to adapt a relationship to the special challenges and constraints imposed by advanced age. These include prenuptial agreements, powers of attorney, wills, and advance directives. Even if such legal devices may seem unnecessary to most people contemplating “tying the knot,” Ms. Grama advises the elder law practitioner to give such options special attention in counseling elderly couples.
About the Author
Joanna Lyn Grama is a member of the University of Illinois College of Law class of 2000 and of The Elder Law Journal, serving as Editor-in-Chief during the 1999-2000 academic year.
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