Marrying after 55: how to protect what’s yours

Money talks essential before you tie the knot second time around.

Don’t get hitched to disaster

Same-sex couples in long-term relationships have probably had plenty of time to develop trust in their partner while they waited for the marriage equality green light. In fact, regardless of a gender preference, everyone should pause and ponder how they will fare as a duo before rushing in to tie the knot … especially the second time around.

Men need to protect themselves from being taken to the cleaners by a bitter ex, and women in particular need to ensure they won’t fall under the poverty line after a split. The recent Mission Australia report, Ageing and Homelessness: Solutions for a Growing Problem, painted a grim picture for older women who are left single after a marriage breakdown.

“Older women continue to be particularly vulnerable to later-in-life homelessness, due to factors including a lack of superannuation, financial dependence, and domestic and family violence,” Mission Australia reported.

As unromantic as it may sound, before walking down the aisle, it is prudent to discuss finances with your soon-to-be-spouse early in the courting stage. That is also the down-to-earth advice offered by the Government’s MoneySmart website.

It recommends that couples discuss financial goals and think carefully before putting all their money into joint accounts or using the same credit card. If things go wrong, it is harder to ascertain which portion of joint assets belongs to whom.

However, when it comes to bills – rates, utilities, health insurance and so on – having both your names on an account is wise. It is the only way to ensure that you are both responsible for paying the owed amount.

On business and personal borrowings, ensure that you will be a beneficiary of the funds. If you guarantee or put your name to a loan that will only benefit your spouse, you will still be responsible for payments, even after separating.

Conversely, if you both buy a house, ensure both your names are on the title. Or better still, speak to a lawyer about drawing up a tenants in common agreement, which will ensure your children’s rights to your inheritance are better protected if you die and your spouse remarries.  

Older women, especially if they have taken time out of work to raise a family, will not have as much in their superannuation funds as their husbands. There are provisions for a higher-income spouse to contribute to their partner’s funds to even things out so that the couple grow their retirement income in tandem.

After a split, it is trickier to access a share of your former partner’s super unless they have made you a beneficiary in a ‘binding’ nomination. Likewise, if you have a binding nomination in your super, insurance or a family trust, the assets will be distributed to your named beneficiary, regardless of what your will says.

If this is not your first marriage, you may have assets and children or grandchildren you wish to protect. Signing a prenup, such as a binding financial agreement (BFA), will spell out how far you are willing to share or not share any assets accumulated in the past with your new partner.

A BFA is only a legally enforceable document if you and your partner have consulted a financial adviser in writing it, and if it is signed and witnessed by both parties.

Long before you hear the sound of your own wedding bells, listen to advice from a lawyer about writing a will or power of attorney, and to professional financial advice from an expert about how a BFA can protect your assets so that you can have peace of mind, no matter how your relationship develops.



    To make a comment, please register or login
    28th Nov 2017
    My advice - don't. Be in control of your own destiny.
    If you are in a Private superfund and you have a union with a pensioner you will have to share your super and they will lose the pension.
    If you are both pensioners you are going to have to share a pension. How does that go with all you married pensioners?
    Keep your independence, the kids inheritance and live your life - don't spend the remaining years as someone's carer.
    28th Nov 2017
    It's bad enough caring for yourself let alone another old child. ha ha
    28th Nov 2017
    Don't worry ladies very few guys ask old women to marry, your safe. You have no decision to make :).
    28th Nov 2017
    The last paragraph applies to de facto relationships too. Also one should get legal advice, as well as financial advice on a BFA, because a BFA is not bullet-proof. It can be set aside by the Family Court in various circumstances.
    28th Nov 2017
    Yes the BTA's are not binding they can be changed by the Family Court. Its all about being fair, even if one partner brings in all the money, and the other has nothing, you will have to divvi up. So you may as well not go to the expense to have one drawn up as they are expensive. If security in your old age is an issue hang onto your money and stay single. You can always have short term relationships.
    Old Geezer
    28th Nov 2017
    Wo gets married today anyway? Such an old fashion idea. Just enjoy the good times and throw them out when you have had enough instead.
    Not Amused
    28th Nov 2017
    These are all reasons why men won't marry women. Men are far more financially responsible and tend to grow their financial assets. To marry or live with a woman longer than two years means they will be required to split their assets whether or not the woman has contributed. It's a well known fact that some women make a career out of multiple marriages, just to take advantage of the law.
    28th Nov 2017
    You would be surprised at the number of older men who are very interested in a woman with her own home! Sometimes because they want someone who also has their own assets, often because they want a roof over their head and a full time carer!
    28th Nov 2017
    Well well well! Anyone ever hear about the men who want to live off women?
    28th Nov 2017
    These women can say what they like they know they won't be asked.

    28th Nov 2017
    my god - the thought of having a woman around the place 24 x 7 makes me physically ill and depressed.
    they can come around for a meal and a sleep over every now and then. on other days they can bugger off and leave me alone
    28th Nov 2017
    Good plan Raphael. Let them stay and you'll end up broke. Let them pay for their own retirement.
    28th Nov 2017
    Perhaps we should arrange wombat tee shirts. Eats roots and leaves. ;)
    29th Nov 2017
    Damn right Tibs . And when there’s no freebies on tap available , you can always pay for it - very cost effective
    28th Nov 2017
    Don't marry why would a guy want to marry at all least of all at 55. Less men are marrying every day , they even have a name for it , it's called the marriage strike.
    28th Nov 2017
    If you are interested in why men are not interested in marriage any more. What this video.
    For the guys
    Men not marrying? How deep does "the problem" go?
    karen straughan 1,341,571 views
    29th Nov 2017
    Finally - an honest woman
    I could marry her if she fixed her teeth and grew her hair

    Not that stupid
    29th Nov 2017
    Yes Raphael it's the best video I've seen more men should see it.

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