Second Marriage? Get Yourself A Pre-Nup Says Pictons

With one in three marriages ending in divorce and endless partnerships reaching a miserable end it’s always exciting to find love again and make new commitments. We are a romantic bunch whatever people say about ‘hope over experience’ and that’s how it should be whatever age you are.

However, when children are involved the picture isn’t quite so clear cut, especially for older couples and the silver surfer/baby boomer generation. In later life as people retire early on comfortable pensions or find that the value of their property has soared since they bought it as a family house 20 or 30 years ago it’s just wise to take precautions on what will happen to the assets you’ve acquired over your lifetime should the worse happen and you die.

While we would hope that the ‘wicked stepmother’- or stepfather- is the stuff of fairy tales, the fact is that a surviving step parent can legally re-write a Will and in doing so, ignore the wishes of their deceased partner and disinherit their stepchildren. A recent case that highlighted this situation is with the sons of popular actress Lynda Bellingham, who claim their stepfather has turned them out of the family home and is spending their inheritance. While Lynda’s widower husband Michael Pattemore says her Will is still in probate, he does appear to have spent a lot of money on travelling around the world while her sons, allegedly, have received only £750 from the considerable assets Lynda left to them, which she accrued during her lifetime from a very successful acting and presenting career.

Siobhan Rooney, a Partner in leading and award winning regional law firm Pictons and Head of the firm’s Family Law dept says “Especially for older couples with children from previous relationships, it is important to have pre nuptial agreements because you really want to avoid your loved ones fighting over your assets should you die.

“You may want to leave a property to your partner in case of your death until they too pass away, but without a pre nup – even if you state this in your Will – there is no guarantee that your own children will be the beneficiaries of that property or your share in it. Your second partner could easily leave it to their own children even if you originally owned all or part of it.

“We can provide pre nuptial agreements, which are entered into prior to a marriage in an attempt to agree what will happen should the marriage end in order to make the process of the end of a marriage or partnership more straightforward, reducing the emotional aftershock and also to protect either party from the other person who may be acting in an unreasonable manner due to the marriage breakdown.

“However, many older couples are now arranging pre-nups to avoid any inheritance disputes once they are gone. It makes total sense to protect one’s assets before re marrying to ensure that your own children will inherit your legacy rather than your new partner and possibly their own children and not yours.

“Whilst ‘pre-nups’ are not yet completely binding upon the courts in England and Wales, the court will need good reason to depart from the agreement reached between the parties when determining matters, especially those of a financial nature.

“As appears to be evident in the very sad case of Lynda Bellingham’s sons, their mother’s wishes are not being executed in the way she would have wanted. We can only hope that once probate is completed Lynda’s widower will fulfill her wishes and her sons will inherit what they deserve from her estate.”

If you would like to speak toSiobhan or one of her team about Pre-Nups or Post-Nups please contact us on 0800 302 9448 or email info@pictons.co.uk 

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