Amid the exhilaration of pending nuptials, couples often
overlook important legal 'housekeeping' matters that should
be attended to prior to the big day. Here are two items to add to
your 'to do' list:
But I already have a valid will, you say...
The law makes it very clear that upon saying 'I do', any
current will that you have is instantly void. Section 18 of the
Wills Act 2007 states that a 'will is revoked if the will-maker
marries or enters a civil union' unless the will expressly
states that it is made "in contemplation" of the marriage
or civil union.
It doesn't matter if you haven't set a date, if marriage
or civil union is on the agenda, you are wise to make an
appointment with your lawyer to update your will to ensure it sets
out your wishes and continues in force after your marriage or civil
Joint and separate property
The Property (Relationships) Act 1976 sets out how the property
of married couples and civil union couples, and couples who have
lived in a de facto relationship, is to be divided up when they
separate or one of them dies. Once a relationship has passed the
three year mark, the Act clearly states that all relationship
property owned by a couple, unless specified otherwise, is to be
shared 50/50 in the event of a separation or death.
How does one 'specify otherwise'?
If you have assets that you believe should be identified as
yours, the only way this can be established is by entering into an
agreement that contracts out of the act or, more simply put, an
agreement signed by both of you that makes it clear that the rule
of equal sharing in the act does not apply to specific assets. This
type of agreement needs to be prepared by your lawyer with each
party being independently legally advised prior to
Although contracting out agreements can be entered into at any
stage of a relationship, tidying up these matters early on in a
relationship is prudent, but even more importantly when a
relationship is crystalised by a marriage or civil union. Don't
wait for the three year mark as the act can apply earlier in some
The best honeymoon is one where you can relax and bask in the
memory of your special day. To ensure that this blissful moment is
free from worries, take the time now to talk to your lawyer to
ensure that matters such as your wills and property matters are
Enjoy your happy day.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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To ensure that all possible problems are considered and addressed, the transactions must be appropriately documented.
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