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Pre-nuptial Agreements – not all doom and gloom!

Planning for a wedding is an exciting time and there is so much to think about. Chances are that a Pre-nuptial Agreement is not one of the things on your to-do list, however, that could be a mistake and in some circumstances, it could be very important.

Understandably the prospect of discussing a Pre-nuptial Agreements with your future spouse can be daunting but there are many positives to having one:

  • It can provide certainty for both spouses as to what they will receive if the marriage breaks down
  • It can protect an inheritance  or any assets pre-owned by one spouse
  • It ensures that both spouses are aware of the financial positions of each other
  • It provides clarity for the future of the marriage

Where one party to the marriage has substantial property in their sole name which has been acquired before the relationship or where one party is due to receive a substantial inheritance from a family member then a Pre-nuptial Agreement can be very useful. Parents who are due to give money/property to their child prior to the child’s marriage may wish to ensure that it is protected for their child or future grandchildren and may insist that a Pre-nuptial Agreement is entered into before any gift takes place.  One party may have assets from a previous relationship which they may wish to protect for their children of that relationship and a Pre-nuptial Agreement is a way to try and ensure their interest is secured. 

A Pre-nuptial Agreement covers the breakdown of a marriage, however, if you die during the marriage, the Pre-nuptial Agreement ends and your Will takes effect.  If you do not have a Will, Intestacy rules apply which may result in your estate not being distributed in accordance with the wishes that you had in your Pre-nuptial agreement. 

It should also be remembered that entering into a Pre-nuptial Agreement does not suggest that the marriage will not work or that you are more likely to divorce. It simply gives you peace of mind so that you can enjoy your wedding day and your future lives together.

If you do wish to consider a Pre-nuptial Agreement then bear in mind that you will need to satisfy these requirements:

  • It must be entered into 21 days before marriage
  • There must be full and frank disclosure of all financial matters of both spouses
  • Both spouses should receive independent legal advice on the terms of the Agreement
  • Neither party should be under duress or made to sign the Agreement.

Pre-nuptial Agreements are taken into account by the Courts as part of any financial proceedings within a divorce and if entered into correctly can be very persuasive if not binding.

If you would like to discuss a Pre-nuptial Agreement please contact our Family Department on 01905 721600 or if you would like to discuss making or updating your Will please contact a member of our Private Client department on 01905 721600.

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