Personal Finance

Billy Joel, 68, will soon be a new dad. What older parents need to know

Key Points
  • Singer Billy Joel is expecting his third child next month.
  • As an older parent, the 68-year-old crooner has unique estate and financial planning needs.
  • Individuals who become parents later in life will need to adjust how they divide their assets and the retirement lifestyle they can expect.
Billy Joel, 1990
Rob Verhorst | Redferns | Getty Images

Billy Joel just re-upped his chances of spending "The Longest Time" as a new parent.

The 68-year-old crooner has revealed he and his wife are expecting their second child next month. Joel is already the father to two other children: a 31-year-old daughter with ex-wife Christie Brinkley and a 2-year-old daughter with his current wife, Alexis Roderick.

As an older father to young children, Joel joins the ranks of Mick Jagger, who welcomed his eighth child last year at the age of 72.

But older parents need to think about specific estate and financial planning considerations for their situations.

One key tip to keep in mind: Start planning now, even if you don't know how your family relationships may change with the addition of a new child, Martin M. Shenkman, an estate planning attorney at Shenkman Law, said.

"You're better off implementing a plan now based on your best guess, and you can always modify those things later," Shenkman said.

For someone like Joel with a high public profile and substantial wealth, establishing a quiet trust in a state that permits it ‒ like Delaware, Nevada or Alaska ‒ would make sense, according to Shenkman. A quiet trust allows individuals to set aside assets and plan for how they will be divided without informing their beneficiaries. It also keeps those plans out of the public eye.

"There's less reporting to the people involved so they don't have to fight," Shenkman said.

In addition, anyone with multiple children and former spouses should directly address all members of the family in their plan.

"Make sure you deal with each individual to the degree you want to or don't want to," Shenkman said. "And if you don't want to, make that clear too."

For one client in a similar situation, Shenkman helped establish a trust for the newborn child. The assets in the trust were designed to allocate enough funds to educate that child through college and to the same point in life as the older children. After that, the plan called for an equal division of the client's assets. But that plan could change if circumstances such as an illness upset the family's needs. "You have to be flexible," Shenkman said.

Marriage & money
Marriage & money

Hank N. Mulvihill, director and senior wealth advisor at Smith Anglin Financial in Dallas, said working with couples with such a big age difference often brings a scene from "When Harry Met Sally" to mind.

In the movie, Sally, played by Meg Ryan, says, "Charlie Chaplin had kids when he was 73," to which Harry, played by Billy Crystal, responds, "Yeah, but he was too old to pick them up."

Beyond physical challenges, the biggest issue for families in this situation is making sure there will be enough money to provide for the younger spouse and the child.

To cover a child's needs into their mid-20s, a parent could easily need an additional $400,000, which often comes as a surprise to a senior, more established member of the couple, according to Mulvihill.

"That person, if planning for a family of moderate means, is going to have to set aside a lot more money for the younger people in the family," Mulvihill said.

That often includes working longer for the older spouse and working more for the younger spouse. The duo can also plan for the more senior individual to boost their Social Security by delaying their benefits until age 70, but that extra money is often "nowhere near enough," Mulvihill said.

What really makes a difference, according to Mulvihill, is for the couple to lower their expectations, like nixing plans for a second home in retirement.

In general, financial plans for couples get more complicated when the age difference is 15 years or greater. Those spouses should also pay attention to longevity and elder care issues too.

"That expense will wipe out Social Security and then some," Mulvihill said.