09 May 2019

Legal considerations before marriage

Will the Government’s latest plans to allow couples to marry on a beach, in gardens or on their favourite hilltop destination see an upsurge in ceremonies across our region?

Yes, we are on the eve of a marriage revolution with the Law Commission instructed to carry out a full review of the current regulations, which have existed since 1837 – so perhaps time for an overhaul!

It has already been indicated that the present ‘outdated’ rules around wedding venues will be made simpler in England and Wales, allowing legally binding ceremonies outdoors – currently they must only take place in solid structures that have a permanent roof.

With this likely relaxation of the rules bringing marriage into the headlines again, it is perhaps well worth examining some of the other essential elements that should come with any formal union. While not wishing to take away the romance of any couple’s big day, it is important that couples can talk freely about such things as pre or postnuptial agreements, Lasting Powers of Attorney and Wills. Let’s just examine these three formalities in a little more detail.

Pre or Postnuptial Agreements: These agreements are well-known in celebrity circles and are becoming more commonplace in everyday life. They must be entered into freely, and with all assets and income openly declared. While not always binding upon a court in the future, a well-drafted agreement properly entered into, can, and often will, be upheld by a court in any proceedings.

Lasting Powers of Attorney: This is a valuable document in the event that either person loses capacity to make financial decisions, or decisions about health and welfare. While couples will want to push such thoughts to the very back of their minds, it is a reality that illnesses and accidents happen and being prepared will ensure that decisions can still be made, as without Lasting Powers of Attorney being in place, there is no automatic right for spouses to manage one another’s affairs if one partner were to lose capacity.

Wills: If either partner already has a Will in place then, unless it states specifically that it was prepared with their marriage (to each other!) in mind, then it will automatically be revoked when the wedding takes place. Remember, new Wills can be made and signed well in advance of a marriage.

For further information, please contact Lisa Boileau in the family team or Emma Carr in the Wills and estates team on 01522 512345

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