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What Can Happen When Elderly People Remarry Without Planning
Jan L. Warner

Question: My husband (age 82) and I (age 77) married two years ago, the second marriage for each of us. We each have children from our prior marriages. Before we married, he sold his home, put the $125,000 he received in his account, and moved into my $175,000 home. He insisted that I accept $30,000 from him and put his name on the deed to my house Ė which I did after weeks of badgering. Then he insisted that I sell my car -- which I did, only to find that he put the new one in his name. My income was combined with his, and he made me ask him for every penny I needed. He will not turn on the heat unless he is taking a shower. We can only have one light on at a time. Then the crowning blow: While I was in the hospital after major surgery, he called and said he never should have married me, apparently upset that I was not there to wait on him. He told me that he had changed his will and had fixed it so that, if he dies before me, I can live in my house until I die then it will be sold and half will go to his children. He and his children have caused problems with my children. I am so upset over this and don't know what I should do. I am at the end of my rope. I don't feel that he has a right to give my property away. What kind of lawyer should I see to straighten out this mess?

Answer: More and more, we are hearing from older Americans who, after a late-life divorce or the death of a spouse, are remarrying only to find that things are not as they expected. Thatís why we urge those who are contemplating second or third marriages late in life to thoroughly plan in advance by using premarital agreements and ancillary documents. While it is difficult for anyone to go through a divorce, this is especially true for older Americans; however, if anyone needs to see a matrimonial lawyer, itís you. And we suggest that you get a good one as soon as possible. If you allow things to continue to progress, both you and your children will find yourselves without that which you and your deceased husband worked for years to acquire.

Jan Collins Stucker is an award-winning writer and editor. Jan Warner is a matrimonial, elder, and tax attorney. Both are based in Columbia, South Carolina. Flying Solo is seen in newspapers throughout the United States and can be found on the Internet at

Please e-mail your questions to or by mail to P.O.Box 11704, Columbia, SC 29211. To receive the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers "Divorce Manual," either go to "Media" area of this website and use your credit card or send $7.50 payable to "AAML Fulfillment" to P. O. Box 11704, Columbia, South Carolina 29211, and we'll make sure you receive it. © 1997-2003, Flying Solo

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