• Long-term care: Given the high cost of long-term care—a private room in a nursing home cost $87,235 per year in 2011, according to a MetLife Survey—having a partner who needs that level of care could strain both of your bank accounts. If you're married, you'd need to spend down both spouse's assets before your spouse would qualify for Medicaid, even if you have a prenuptial agreement stating that certain assets be kept separate.
Steve Kunkel, lead managing director at tax consulting firm CBIZ MHM in Los Angeles, suggests considering long-term care insurance before you need it. "If the new spouse doesn't have a lot of assets, maybe one of the things that the richer spouse can do is provide a policy that covers both of them," says Kunkel, "People live for a long time nowadays, and they may have delayed onset Alzheimer's or develop some chronic problem that's going to require a lot of care."
Either way, you should discuss your healthcare preferences with your partner in case something happens to you. Also consider signing a healthcare proxy form if you're not married and want your partner to be able to make medical decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated.
• Real estate: Before moving into a new partner's house or vice versa, discuss what happens to the house if the owner dies. Should the house go to that person's family or should the property be titled jointly? One option is to use a life estate, in which the other partner (called a life tenant) stays in the home for his or her lifespan, then the property passes to the owner's family after the life tenant's death.
As Jean Setzfand, vice president for financial security at AARP, points out, couples should also discuss how the property could be adapted as they age. "Is the house you're currently living in appropriate for you to live there the rest of your life?" she asks. Some homes may be unsuitable while others could be adapted with ramps to the entrance or grab bars in the shower.
Couples considering remarriage may also want a prenup (called an antenup in some states). "Life gets more complicated as you get older," says Setzfand. "That makes it harder when you comingle your life and financial situation. But the prenup is a discussion process, which helps you and your spouse figure things out. It also makes it official." Those who are already married could use a postnup instead.