Life begins at 60
Statistics out last week show an increase in marriages from 2011 to 2012 particularly for the over-65s.
There was a 25 per cent rise in the number of men aged 65 to 69 getting married, with a 21 per cent increase among women of the same age. About one in 10 were single before tying the knot, two-thirds were divorced and the rest widowed.
Commentators put this increase in marriages among the older generation down to the greater life expectancy, health and wealth of the baby-boomer generation over that of their parents. In the past, people might have considered that they might be too old to remarry once they’d reached pension age. However, today’s over-65s can see that it’s not too late to start a new life.
Although the law is the same for those marrying or divorcing at any age, there are some aspects of family law which are more pertinent to the older client.
Separating from someone with whom you have spent the majority of your life can be a tough and brave step. A divorce needs you to come to peace with your past life as a couple and to work out how to start life again without that person. Many find that mediation can help this happen. For information about family mediation at BLB Solicitors click here.
Where younger couples might have issues such as child arrangements to consider, when people decide to end their relationships later in life other factors are relevant. With older couples, often one person will have given up their career to raise children and so contributed less to the mortgage and pensions, but still had a vital role in the relationship. On divorce, provision will usually need to be made to ensure parity of capital and income during retirement taking into account the relevant tax implications.
Health implications will also need to be taken into account. For example, a separation may come after illness, such as cancer and provision may need to be made for any on-going treatment or for support if the illness returns.
Other issues to be considered for an older couple might be their respective inheritance prospects, care for elderly relatives, providing adequately for adult children on death and second homes and/or time-shares and, of course, any family pets.
If re-marrying later in life, protecting pre-acquired assets – in the event of marriage breakdown or death – may be a concern.
If you wish to ensure that, on your death, any adult children from a previous relationship inherit all, or a proportion, of your assets you will need to make a Will to this effect. Otherwise, if you die without a Will, your new spouse will be your sole, or main, beneficiary.
It is important to note that if you jointly purchase a property with your new spouse as joint tenants, on your death your share in this property will pass to your spouse absolutely regardless of the wording of any Will. If you wish your share to pass to another or others, you will need to sever the joint tenancy or purchase as tenants in common and make appropriate provision in your Will.
As regards protecting assets in case your marriage breaks down, entering into a pre-nup is usually advisable. However, it should be borne in mind that, in the event of a dispute, the court has discretion to depart from a pre-nup if, for example, it fails to provide adequately for your spouse’s needs. See previous post entitled “What is a prenup?“.
For advice in relation to any of the issues raised in this article please contact Sarah Jackson at BLB Solicitors in Bristol on 0117 905 5308 or Bath on 01225 462871.
Image by Spirit-Fire under a creative commons licence (cropped)