August 9, 2013

Why pre-nups are a must for late blossoming love

Finding new love late in life may seem romantic, yet could cost the UK’s rising numbers of ‘silver separators’ dearly, says Peter Jones.

Following the news that divorce among the 60s is rocketing while it falls for the rest of the population, fellow partner Fiona Kendall and I were invited onto BBC Radio Leeds to discuss the trend with presenter Nick Ahad.

In 1991 the Office for National Statistics reported 1.6 divorces per 1,000 married men over 60, while new figures released by the ONS showed this had risen to 2.3 by 2011 – the latest year for which figures are available.

As well as highlighting the possible reasons why people in their 60s are divorcing in their droves, we talked about the emotional and financial risks of walking away from a marriage after decades.  And when it comes to a late blossoming romance, I’d urge the baby boomer generation to take off the rose tinted glasses and consider a pre marriage agreement (pre-nup) or a cohabitation agreement. They should also draw up new wills reflecting their changed status.

It may seem unromantic, or even distasteful, to be considering the financial ‘what ifs’ so early in a relationship, however  ‘silver splitters’ considering re-marriage or living together should protect their assets and those of their children from previous marriages. Without such agreements in place if the couple splits up, or one partner dies, the remaining partner could be left with nothing – or conversely – could be left with everything at the expense of other family members.

Imagine, for example, a 65-year-old man with two grown up children, who divorces after 35 years of marriage. He meets a divorced woman who also has older children. They marry, pool their resources and buy a lovely home together.  They haven’t made new wills or drawn up a ‘pre-nup’, although the husband has a will he made immediately after his divorce. He dies very suddenly and his original will is null and void because he has remarried.  In such circumstances, the law takes control of his estate and is likely to give a large tranche to the wife – even if they have been married for a short time.  His grown up children receive smaller amounts and will have to contest the decision in a potentially costly legal battle.

If our fictional ‘silver divorcees’ had drawn up a ‘pre-nup’ and had their wills in order then both the new widow and her late husband’s first family would have financial security.

If you’re among the increasing numbers of ‘silver separators’ who will be tying the knot with a new partner, we urge you to factor in the legacy you leave for future generations into your wedding preparations.