Inheritance warning – do this NOW or your partner could take it all. ‘Time for a post-nup’

Janet Street-Porter says men 'can't cope' with divorce

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A growing number in their late 40s, 50s and 60s have inherited money from their parents or expect to do so, and want to keep it separate from their partner, according to Osbornes Law. Otherwise they risk losing some or all of the money.

When couples separate or divorce, there is often a brutal fight over who gets the money.

Often the emotional financial fallout is far worse than the emotional pain.

Hollywood celebrities are well-known for insisting on signing a pre-nuptial agreement BEFORE they get married, to protect their wealth in case of separation.

Now a growing number of ordinary UK couples are signing post-nuptial agreements instead.

Many of them have happy, functioning relationships, but they want to know exactly where they stand in case they go their separate ways at some point.

Like a pre-nup, a post-nup sets out a couple’s financial arrangements should the marriage collapse. The only difference is that it is done AFTER people get married. In some cases 20 or 30 years afterwards.

In a growing number of situations, the trigger is that one of them has received an inheritance or gift from elderly parents.

Joanne Wescott, family law partner at Osbornes law, said big money is at stake and they want to retain control over it.

It’s an increasingly common situation. “Though happily married, both partners feel the inheritance should not be split equally if they divorce. Significant sums are usually at stake,” she said.

Inherited wealth is not automatically treated as a matrimonial asset to be split 50/50, but a post-nup gives couples more certainty about how it will be treated by the courts, Wescott said.

“Ultimately the courts still decide but will generally take account of a post-nup, if one has been signed.”

While many use an inheritance to pay off a joint mortgage on the family home or buy an investment property, they don’t want to lose that if they separate later.

Wescott said a post-nup can bring peace of mind. “Whilst it may be a difficult conversation to have with your other half, my experience is that couples tend to be in agreement about inheritances and gifts from family, especially if it goes on to benefit children of the marriage.”

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Courts will only take account of a post-nup if each spouse entered into it freely, understood what it involved, made full financial disclosure and took independent legal advice.

Wescott added: “I have also advised clients whose marriage is a little rocky, with both partners anxious about what would happen to their finances in the event of a divorce.

“By agreeing the terms of a post-nup, these concerns and insecurities are taken out of the equation, leaving the couple free to focus on their relationship.”

A court will take account of a post-nup where each spouse has entered into it freely, understanding what it means. There will need to have been full financial disclosure, with both sides taking independent legal advice.

A post-nup does not oust the judge’s decision making as they are not legally binding, but they are persuasive and courts will typically follow them.

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