This month, we are warning local people about the risks associated with getting married without first protecting their assets.
We have chosen to issue the warning after official figures showed that the number of marriages involving people aged over 50 increased by a third between 2005 and 2015.
Associate Solicitor, Surjit Verdi, said: “With people in this age group more likely to own a home and also have children which they will wish to pass their assets to, it is especially important for them to consider how marriage will affect their plans in respect of such assets.
“While nobody is likely to enter into a marriage expecting a relationship to end, around four in ten marriages end in divorce, so it is wise to take steps to protect this wealth in the event that the relationship breaks down.
“Even if the relationship does not break down, getting married nullifies existing wills, and any new spouse would take a significant part – potentially all – of the estate, if no new will is made.”
She said that on marrying, couples should consider making both prenuptial agreements and new wills.
“While a prenuptial agreement isn’t exactly romantic, it is important to talk with your partner about the future and how you will minimise the risk of conflict or the loss of valuable assets in the event that the relationship does end in divorce.”
A prenuptial agreement or ‘prenup’ enables couples to set out in writing exactly what will happen to their individual assets, in the event of a permanent separation.
“Contrary to popular opinion, prenups are not just for Hollywood celebrities. These vital documents are growing increasingly popular in the UK – and with good reason – with financial disagreements being one of the most common reasons divorce proceedings turn ugly,” added Surjit Verdi.
She said that the Court will typically divide any assets shared between a married couple equally during a divorce – and that it might be difficult for one party to prove that they have made a greater contribution to the couple’s shared assets during the course of their relationship if this has not been carefully considered beforehand.
A prenuptial agreement ensures that both parties know where they stand from the outset, thus considerably reducing the possibility of arguments, bitterness and lengthy Court battles later down the line, she said.