Pre-nuptial information can be found here
Couples living together (without Legal Planning) might expect that they wouldn’t have too much control if their partner was ill or died. They would be right – in the case of illness, the partner would be pushed out and would almost certainly have no say whatever - even if they went to Court. If a partner dies, the survivor would get nothing at all unless they took the estate of the partner to Court – and won.
But you’re getting married, so things will change?..
If you already have a Last Will and Testament, unless it was specially written (and recorded) as being “in contemplation of marriage” to your new husband or wife, your marriage will CANCEL it! This can be simply sorted with an inexpensive Codicil*, which needs to be put in place before the marriage. Or you could sign your new Last Will at the same time as you sign the Register (perhaps not!)
If you don’t have a Will and your husband, wife or civil partner dies...
The Rules of Intestacy apply – and Social Services will effectively decide who looks after any children as you haven’t made the decision in your Last Will.
But now things get worse….If your husband or wife had an accident and ended up in a coma or just confused and unable to make decisions, you would expect to be able to take over. But here are some of the things which will happen:
1) The bank will refuse you access to any of your spouses accounts – and any joint accounts. Equally, you won’t have access to any stored documents.
2) Hospitals and doctors will listen to you – but you will have no authority.
3) If you were in the middle of moving or need to move to somewhere your spouse can manage in – you can’t.
4) If something happened to both of you at the same time, the Courts and Social Services would be in charge – and it isn’t that unlikely! If you get in this situation, you (or a family member) would have to apply to the Court of Protection to be appointed as your spouses “deputy” with authority to manage their affairs. If other family members dispute this, then the ill person pays all their legal fees, and the chances are that the Court of Protection will settle the dispute by appointing – wait for it – a solicitor to manage everything. £200 an hour or so for someone to pay the bills and make general everyday decisions!
But that is crazy!
Yes it is – but it is the Law in England and Wales (the rest of the UK is similar). Sound like it might be worth taking some precautions: so what can I do to protect my new husband/ wife / civil partner?Everyone over 18 should ideally have:
A Last Will – to dispose of their assets and appoint guardians for their children.
A Lasting Power of Attorney Property and Finance which can appoint your new spouse (for example) to manage your finances if you lose the ability to do so. You should also have at least one other person as an “attorney” in case you and your partner have an accident at the same time.
A Lasting Power of Attorney Health and Welfare can appoint guardians for your children (a Will does nothing at all unless you are dead!) and allows your spouse to make medical and welfare decisions on your behalf, where otherwise they would be powerless – and you wouldn’t wish that on anyone.
For a free guide and discount voucher please contact the author of this article Stephen Pett of Allied Professional Will Writers Ltd who are regulated by the Society of Will Writers.