With recent official figures showing that the number of older women marrying or remarrying has increased in recent years, new research suggests that for many the decision to tie the knot is as much about money as love alone.
According to a new study by Investec Wealth & Investment, almost half (48%) of divorced and widowed women aged over 55 said that their financial wellbeing would influence or has influenced their decision to remarry rather than have a common-law relationship.
Of these, almost a quarter (23%) rated their financial wellbeing as a significant factor and one in ten (9%) the primary factor in deciding to remarry, rising to 15% among divorced women.
The biggest financial consideration cited by 45% of over 55s behind the decision to remarry rather than have a common-law relationship is having an automatic right to a pension pot if they split up or one partner dies. The next most important (36%) was the guaranteed inheritance rights enjoyed by married couples in the event one partner dies without a will. The potential benefit gained from the doubling of the inheritance tax threshold for married couples to £650,000 for the surviving spouse was cited by a quarter 23% of respondents.
The data released by the ONS showed that the number of women marrying over the age of 65 has increased by 56% in the five-year period to 2014. With increased longevity, this percentage looks likely to increase further, with second, even third, marriages potentially lasting for several decades.
According to IW&I, a key challenge facing women who decide to marry later at an older age is the extent to which their assets are combined with those of their new partner. IW&I warns that this can become complicated, particularly for those with children from a previous relationship, which account for 83% of women.
The findings reveal that 60% of women over 55 did or would take steps to ensure the assets they owned before marriage were kept separate from their new partner. The figure rises to 73% among divorced women and 66% among the over 65s.
Helen Medhurst-Jackson, Financial Planning Director at Investec Wealth & Investment, said:
"It's great to see more women remarrying later in life and we're advising a growing number on the financial risks and advantages this brings. It's very important to know what these are before deciding to tie the knot.
"Money alone doesn't guarantee a successful marriage but whether we like it or not it's a key factor and that's well recognised by those women who have already tied the knot. Most later-life marriages involve both partners bringing their own financial assets and these often vary in type and value. The decision around whether these are shared or kept separate from their new partner needs to be taken and understood at the start to avoid confusion if the marriage ends in death or divorce. It's also important to agree an inheritance plan, particularly for couples with children from previous relationships.
"Marriage has a number of financial benefits over common-law relationships, particularly around inheritance rights in the absence of a will. But it's vital to have the right advice to know what these are and avoid the pitfalls."
Jane Finnerty, Jt. Chairman, Society of Later Life Advisers said:
"It's great to see that older women are increasingly aware of the financial considerations when it comes to marrying and remarrying in later life. We frequently see the resulting financial planning complexities when there are grown up children and grandchildren from previous marriages and the issues, often highly emotional, these bring. With the right advice, these can be addressed so that future family disputes and upset can be avoided."