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25 June 2014

Weddings on the increase for the older generation

With the summer wedding season well under way, statistics just released reveal that an increasing number of so-called "baby boomers" are marrying after the age of 65.

According to information from the Office for National Statistics, 25% more men and 20% more women are now saying “I do” as they reach their retirement years and one in 10 of over 65s is marrying for the first time.

Family lawyer Laura McSherry, says while cupid’s arrow may strike a little later for some, others are likely to be marrying for more practical reasons.

“It may be that this trend is driven by increased life expectancy and the desire to share the years of retirement with a spouse. The change in social attitudes towards re-marriage means that there is no longer a stigma about marrying twice or more,” she said.

“But while the majority are likely to marry for conventional reasons, it can’t go unnoticed that being married is much more advantageous when it comes to tax planning and avoiding paying inheritance tax (IHT).”

Laura explains that assets that pass on death to a spouse are exempt from IHT, and the IHT allowance, currently set at £325,000, is still available to pass assets to others.  Additionally, if not all of a deceased spouse's allowance is used, the remaining can be utilised by the surviving spouse, and so increase the amount that the surviving spouse can leave before incurring a liability to IHT.

She says older couples who marry are likely to have a more realistic and pragmatic view of married life, especially those who have been married before and have children from a previous relationship. 

“They will often consider, at the time of their marriage, what would happen to the assets they built up prior to meeting their intended future spouse if things do not work out,” she continued. “This is especially important if there are children from an earlier relationship as they will often want to safeguard resources for their own offspring.”

She recommends considering a pre-nuptial agreement specifying what should happen in the event of the relationship breaking down and says this can also help a couple to avoid the indignity of a squabble and potentially protracted court proceedings about who gets what.

Although pre-nuptial agreements are not legally binding in this country, Laura says considerable weight is given to them and, even where an agreement cannot be upheld in its entirety, a judge is required to make an award as close as possible to the terms of the agreement in order to meet the claimant spouse's needs.

When drawing up a pre-nuptial agreement there are strict criteria to be met, including ensuring that no undue influence is used on either party. Full and detailed consideration also needs to be given to the terms of the agreement, to ensure it will meet both parties' needs in the event of divorce and separation, while still protecting each spouse's own resources.

The family team at B P Collins has a wealth of experience on the topic and Laura says if you’re planning a wedding and want advice on a pre-nuptial agreement, it’s essential to seek expert advice well in advance of the big day.

Contact family lawyers at B P Collins by calling 01753 279046 or email a member of the team in confidence at familylaw@bpcollins.co.uk.

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Email: enquiries@bpcollins.co.uk

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