Nip Your Nuptual Before Your Nuptual Nips You

An exclusive excerpt from A.E. Hotchner's book, O.J. in the Morning, G&T at Night: Spirited Dispatches on Aging with Joie de Vivre, discussing the legal pitfalls that may face seniors who remarry.

A.E. Hotchner
July 8, 2013

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A California court awarded Anna $474 million but that award was overturned on appeal; the court, however, granted her the right to a new trial. But the untimely death of the stepson at age 67 complicated the lawsuit that was further complicated by the precipitous death of Anna Nicole at age 37, probably ending the litigation.

It is not only sugar daddies who get into this kind of tangle, but there are also sugar mommies who marry much younger men who sometimes have grandmothers younger than their bride. These marriages may run into trouble when the young husband wants to be a father but the “mature” wife can no longer oblige.

I am muddying these marital waters in order to demonstrate that there is a raft that can keep some divorcing seniors afloat while others around them are sinking. The name of the raft is: PRENUPTIAL. Before the lapel rose and the wrist gardenia, super seniors should write down what is relevant about their assets, children, trusts, those concerns unique to the elderly. There are prenups that even specify finite details like who does the cooking, who cleans up, his ration of sports on television, who pays the bills, how frequently they have sex (once a month is popular), who does the shopping, who goes to the cleaners.

There are lawyers who specialize in drafting prenups for seniors and you can find them on the Internet where they have posted lengthy articles about prenuptials. To be sure a prenup is properly prepared it is probably best to consult one of these lawyers who specialize in family law.

J. Howard could have protected his estate from its tribulations with Anna Nicole if he had executed a prenup that provided terms based on the length of their marriage. Matrimonial lawyers have a standard schedule that determines what the wealthier spouse has to pay from his/her individual bank account:

Marriage of less than one year: $100,000, Marriage of more than one but less than two years: $200,000, Marriage of more than two years: $300,000.

Of course these amounts are adjustable, but depending on whether the young spouse-to-be agrees or refuses to sign on, it is a solid clue as to whether he/she is marrying for love or for money. This ruling by the Florida Court of Appeals demonstrates how a signed prenup has its merits:

This appeal evolves from the divorce of an elderly, wealthy furniture magnate after less than three years of marriage to his much younger wife. We have no quarrel with the conclusion of the trial judge that the wife is not entitled to a $150,000 Rolls-Royce. She will just have to be content with her Cadillac, gifts of jewelry in excess of $150,000 and the $700,000 in cash bestowed on her by the prenuptial agreement.

So, a final word to senior spouses-to-be: Don’t neglect to put your Rolls-Royce in your prenup.

Although the prenup is an effective catch basin for identifying who owns what before the marital knot gets tied, it does not encompass what the superannuated couple acquires after they are Mr. and Mrs., and that’s what leads to all the squabbling if the late-blooming union wilts. I think it’s unfortunate that divvying up these mutually acquired possessions is taken seriously, with families and lawyers becoming involved.

Why not solve the dissolution in the same light-hearted way the couple plighted their troth? Why not a wheel of fortune that puts all the disputed possessions in the categories of the wheel? The disillusioned couple take turns spinning the wheel, and the spinner gets what the wheel stops on. Husband’s spin lands on the new toaster-oven, that’s his. The wife’s spin hits the DVD player, it goes with her.

To paraphrase a bit, life is a carnival, dear chum, we took a chance marrying at 88, why not a wheel of chance when we’re dividing up at 90?

Fortunately, most often the marriage of the two old parties succeeds and they have a fine time during their carnival years, playing life’s wheel of fortune together.

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Check out more of A.E. Hotchner's spirited dispatches on aging with joie de vivre in his new book, O.J. in the Morning, G&T at Night. Now available for pre-order on AmazonB&NiTunes, and other retailers!

Author image courtesy of Wikipedia