News outlets have been rife with speculation about the impact of coronavirus upon divorce rates. Articles have reported that child custody fights are on the rise, as are challenges over financial settlements as households are hit by the current pandemic. While Covid-19 divorce rates have been in the spotlight, little attention has been given to couples who are not divorced or separated but need to make agreements around their financial affairs.
According to the relationship support charity Relate, 55% of couples cite money as one of their top 3 issues, which increases to 61% for couples with children. Issues around financial matters can exacerbate tensions between couples, especially when they feel uncertain about the future.
As family solicitors, our advice is to keep communication open and clear as much as possible with regards to your finances and your expectations. If this is not possible and communications are breaking down, we can provide guidance on your next best steps. If you need urgent help today, call us on 01273 604 123.
Here are our top 3 tips for couples to protect your financial affairs and reduce worries about the future.
1. Create a Declaration of Trust
It is becoming much more common for couples to take their time before getting married. In fact, many couples feel that buying a property is their priority and put the expense of a wedding to one side in favour of buying their own place and securing a spot on the property ladder.
A Declaration of Trust can help you protect your financial contribution if you decide to sell the property or your share in the property. It will set out your intentions as to what percentage of the property each person will own and what proportion of the sale proceeds each owner will receive if the property is sold. This will differ from couple to couple and will be especially important if one of you is paying a large percentage, or all, of the deposit, mortgage payments, and expenses such as legal fees or removal costs. To speak to our team about creating a Declaration of Trust, click here.
2. Consider making a pre-nuptial agreement before you tie the knot
A pre-nuptial agreement, often referred to as a ‘pre-nup’, is a contract entered into by a couple before they marry which sets out how their assets should be divided if they were to separate or divorce.
While some consider prenuptial agreements to be unromantic, many couples find that a pre-nup puts their mind at ease and protects any potential disagreements around finances and assets before the big day. Such couples are then able to enjoy their day and start married life in the knowledge that they are on the same page.
We’re already married – can we still make a pre-nuptial agreement?
If you are already married, don’t worry – you can create a post-nuptial agreement, that is, an agreement that is made after you have married. Your agreement doesn’t need to cover everything you own, but can include future inheritances, property, debts, and future income.
3. Make sure your wishes are set out in a valid Will
It is our belief that everyone should have a Will. In England and Wales, if you die without a valid Will, the Rules of Intestacy will decide who is given what. These rules are very unlikely to be the same as your personal wishes and could leave those closest to you vulnerable or, in extreme cases, out on the street without a claim to your property or savings.
Cohabitating unmarried couples have no special legal status. If you aren’t married, your partner would not have any legal right to a say in important subjects such as your funeral arrangements in the event of your death. If you have single ownership of your property and die without a Will, the property will be distributed according to the Rules of Intestacy, and your partner may not be able to stay living there. It is vital for married and unmarried partners alike to make valid Wills in order to protect their loved ones.
Our first priority during the Covid-19 outbreak has been to ensure that we continue to provide first class support to our clients. We are able to hold your initial consultation over telephone, Skype, or facetime, and can advise you around any concerns you may have around protecting your financial affairs. We will discuss your individual circumstances and be able to walk through your next best steps.
How to make a remote Will: your free guide
Everyone should have an up-to-date Will. In light of the Covid-19 outbreak, more people than ever are looking into how to make a remote Will, without the need to leave their home.
That’s why we’ve designed our Remote Wills Guide, completely free of charge for you to download.
With over 125 years’ experience in looking after people and their property, we are highly experienced in providing solutions for remote clients, from expats living abroad to people in hospital. We take a client-centred approach in everything we do, and tailor our solutions to fit your unique circumstances.