Partner and Head of Wills & Estate Planning at Andrew & Co Solicitors Helen Newson writes...
Thinking of Taking the Leap this Year?
- AuthorSue Leadbeater
Leap years are marked as a time when a woman can propose to the man in her life. For those of you who may be thinking of popping the question, we have a question of our own to ask. Although it is a very pessimistic thought, particularly when you are in love and about to get married, do you need to consider signing a pre-nuptial agreement?
Pre-nuptial agreements are not for everyone and they are probably not necessary in most cases. However, if, for example, a young couple borrow some money for a deposit for a house from one set of parents or one person has built up a business, pension fund or property portfolio or has received an inheritance which would be unfair to share equally, it would be prudent to have an agreement in place.
What is seen as fair is likely to be very different for a couple who have been married for a short time as against those who have been married for longer where their finances are much more likely to be intertwined and if there are children their needs must have been taken into account.
Similarly, someone who may be on their second or subsequent marriage and have children from a previous relationship, might want a pre-nuptial agreement to ensure their pre-marital assets remain for the benefit of those children.
Another example could be where one party works in a family business. In the unfortunate event of a marriage breakdown that business could be adversely affected if it has not been adequately protected.
Some recent cases have confirmed that the courts are more prepared to accept the terms of a pre-nuptial agreement although they are not legally binding per se. So, if you do have an asset that you wish to protect, you should consider taking legal advice on this issue.
So although the thought of such an agreement may not be a romantic one it may be a sensible one. Hopefully it will never be needed but forward planning, encouraging communication and full and honest disclosure can iron out potential difficulties in the future to minimise uncertainty and avoid dispute thereby reducing emotional conflict and cost.