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    5 February 2021

    Pre-nuptial Agreements and Wills: Married at First Sight

    For those who have not seen the TV programme ‘Married at First Sight’ it essentially is what it says on the tin. Two single people are matched together by relationship experts and meet each other for the first time on their wedding day.

    Billed as containing shocking behaviour, scandalous truths and devious motives, the Steeles Law Family Team consider the advice they would give if asked about the legal implications of marriage and the benefits of having pre-nuptial agreements and Wills in place.  *It is understood that ‘Married at First Sight’ couples do enter into a simple pre-nuptial agreement prior to their marriage, to give them financial protection.

    The importance of Pre-nuptial Agreements and Wills

    What is a Prenuptial Agreement?

    A pre-nuptial agreement (often referred to as a pre-nup) is a written agreement entered into by a couple, who are about to marry or enter into a civil partnership.  The agreement states how each partner’s assets will be divided in the unfortunate event that the relationship breaks down and ends in divorce.

    Why do I need a Pre-nuptial Agreement?

    Although pre-nuptial agreements are often viewed as unromantic, nobody knows what the future may hold and in the unfortunate event that the relationship breaks down, a pre-nuptial agreement can be important in protecting each party’s financial positions.

    A pre-nuptial agreement can be tailored to each couple’s circumstance and therefore can deal with matters such as savings, property, pensions, inheritance, and personal belongings. Pre-nuptial agreements can be particularly important for those entering into second marriages, where there are children or a variety of assets. Importantly a pre-nuptial agreement can provide clarity on what is to happen to any assets brought into the marriage but also future assets such as inheritance. Having a pre-nuptial agreement in place can avoid the need to enter into costly financial negotiations, following the breakdown of the relationship, during what can already be an emotionally difficult time.

    Although pre-nuptial agreements are not legally binding in England, if the settlement terms are disputed, the Court is likely to give weight to any pre-nuptial agreement and uphold its terms, provided it meets the necessary criteria and is properly drafted by a Solicitor.

    Whilst they may not be suitable for all couples, they are an important consideration before the big day.

    How do I enter into a prenuptial agreement?

    A pre-nuptial agreement must be entered into freely by both parties at least 28 days prior to the marriage. However, it is important to start preparing before this. Pre-nuptial agreements can be long and complex documents so it important that there is sufficient time to consider the terms as far in advance of the wedding date as possible. Both parties must be aware of its implications and so each person will need to be open about their financial circumstances.

    The agreement needs to be fair to both parties and cannot prejudice any children of the family. It is important that both parties seek legal advice before entering into a pre-nuptial agreement.

    The importance of Wills

    As well as pre-nuptial agreements, another important matter to review is making or updating a Will.  A Will can deal with issues such as who you would like to receive your assets if you die and who you would like to appoint as guardians for any children under 18.  If you do not have a Will in place, your money and property will pass according to the statutory intestacy provisions.  These are inflexible and can often work unfairly. For example, if you are married and die without a Will, your partner could receive all or a significant proportion of your estate. Your partner can then, by making their own Will provide who they would like to receive their estate. This could mean that any children you have, may not receive any provision from your estate. This is important where there are children from a previous relationship that you would like to benefit, as your partner could choose not to benefit them on their own death.

    Fixed Fee Appointments

    Steeles Law Family Solicitors offer an initial fixed fee meeting for £100 plus VAT for up to an hour, or £125 + VAT including a follow-up letter. The team also offer fixed-fee packages in relation to divorce and financial proceedings. If you would like to discuss the importance of pre-nuptial agreements and Wills reviewed in this article, please call the team on 01603 598000 or email family@steeleslaw.co.uk to book your appointment.

    *The information provided in this article is designed to provide useful information on the subject, not to provide specific legal advice.

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