Splitting the silver: How late life divorce is causing bitter inheritance battles

Till retirement do us part…While divorce rates are generally falling across the board there is one age group that is bucking the trend. The Over 50’s. The baby boomers. Once the largest generation of all – having just been over taken by the millennials – have the post-war bubble babies got a case of the 37 year itch? The soaring late life divorce rate certainly seem to say so…

Once kept together ‘for the children’ the over 60’s are now heading into retirement the most financially secure generation we’ve ever seen. Ready to make the most out of life and solvent enough not to have to compromise.

The terms bandied about – silver splitter and grey divorce are, probably a little unfair. There’s not a whiff of pipe and slippers or winceyette nightie about these divorcees. If 50 is the new 30 and, 60 is the new 40 this is the generation that is redefining old age. However, this too is the first generation for whom living alone in their dotage will become the norm.

Late life divorce… why ARE the over 50’s divorcing?

These are couples that, in the most part, have been together for decades. What exactly is behind the soaring divorce rate? Actually there are a few reasons that are pretty specific to this age group… here are a few of the most common.

Empty nest syndrome, suddenly with the children gone there is no common interest holding you together anymore.

Retirement itself can be a major contributing factor. Suddenly thrust together for long periods of time without the distraction of work or children can expose the cracks.

Changing attitudes means there is no longer a stigma attached to a late life divorce.

Wanderlust… Some may want to slip comfortably into retirement while others having a burning desire to visit far flung corners of our amazing planet.

People are living longer –  whereas in the ‘old days’ people had the good grace to die fairly early, usually the men, these days’ people are now surviving well into their 90s. The thought of enduring another 30 or 40 years of unhappy union is enough for anyone to Google ‘local divorce lawyer’.

Drift…. the couple that were married 40 years ago in their early twenties are very different people today. And, sometimes you like who the other has become and sometimes even their breathing annoys you. It’s just life.

CASH money, honey. Put simply they can afford it. There is a theory that, as the average cost of divorce is between £3-5k there are many young people that would love (pardon the pun) to do it but simply can’t afford to. Which may be skewing the stats giving late life divorce an unfair advantage in the who-gets-divorced-the-most competition.

Late life divorce… at what cost?

Wills and inheritance disputes
Following this explosion in late life divorce comes a wave of bitter fights over who inherits parents money, valuables and property. Commonly following a divorce a new Will is written. However, if that person then goes on to remarry that Will is null and void. If a Will is out of date at the time of death then the rules of intestacy come into effect. Meaning, the deceased current spouse stands to inherit everything, and the children from any previous marriage(s) nothing and more than a little put out!

Older couples are likely to have amassed value in their homes and savings, the impact on the children who suddenly find themselves disinherited is severe. Experts warn that complex marital histories and fractured families can mean arguments over a will between children and a second husband or wife, or between the children from different sides of the family can become very nasty.

What can you do?
Keep your Will up to date. It’s really as simple as that. Our family lives are becoming ever more complex – one in three marriages that took place in 2013 were of a couple where either the bride or groom had been married before. If you get divorced rewrite it. If you get remarried you MUST update it to ensure your children from a previous marriage receive the things that you want them to have. Read more about out of date Wills here.

Should you consider putting your property into Trust?
We’re not talking about one of those dodgy trusts that many people have misguidedly placed their property in to try and avoid care fees (it won’t work!) But…. if you purchase a property with your new spouse or partner using money that you are bringing to the relationship then it may be an idea to purchase it as tenants in common and putting your share into a trust. That means that your new spouse will NEVER own it and you can leave it to whoever you wish. Click here for FIVE things you should know about Will Trusts.

We cannot stress enough how important it is to keep your Will up to date, inheritance disputes are bitter and can send ripples of damage through an entire family. There are plenty of horror stories just a quick Google away. So, if you have divorced or are thinking about remarrying please give us a call on 01322 664885 and we will help you put the correct plan in place.

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