UK: Hearts Are Crying For Amal, Too

Last Updated: 11 February 2015
Article by Kate Davies

For some, the only consolation in not being Mrs Clooney is knowing your firm won't have to reinvest in its website.

The headline read 'George Clooney marries London lawyer'. My first thought was that this news rather ruins my chances of ever marrying George Clooney – something every girl who watched ER as a teenager has thought of at least once. But, always the optimist, my second thought was much more positive – I could have married George Clooney.

Okay, I admit I have never actually met him, and my fiancé probably would not be best pleased, but the key point is that George Clooney has married a London lawyer, and I am a London lawyer. The expression 'so close, yet so far' comes to mind.

Still, looking on the bright side, at least my lack of romantic success with George Clooney has saved Wedlake Bell from having to invest in the firm's website to cope with an increase in visits from heartbroken fans and the media. When George Clooney announced his engagement to Amal Alamuddin, Doughty Street Chambers' website crashed forcing investment in an upgrade in time for the wedding.

Announcing my engagement earlier this year to an economic consultant who was once interviewed by a French radio station surprisingly did not result in an unmanageable surge in traffic to Wedlake Bell's private client pages.

But there are some things the Clooneys and I have in common. Namely, the checklist of legal matters to take into consideration when getting married.

First, consider whether to have a prenuptial agreement. The same rule applies to George and Amal Clooney as to my less prosperous circumstances. Prenuptial agreements should be entered into by anyone who feels that 50/50 as a starting point for the redistribution of assets upon the breakdown of the marriage would be 'unfair'.

Second, republish or make new wills in contemplation of the marriage. Marriage automatically revokes an English will, so if George and Amal have English wills dealing with their worldwide estates – or just their assets in England – such as the manor house in Sonning, Berkshire, which they have reportedly purchased – they will have needed to review their wills in anticipation of their marriage. With their change in circumstances it was probably best to make new wills, but instead they could have republished existing ones in express contemplation of their impending marriage to each other. And if they did neither, then they would be strongly advised to make new ones now. Third, elect which property should be the main property for the purposes of capital gains tax principal private residence relief.

This does not apply to all newlyweds but is almost certainly relevant for the Clooneys. Once married, a couple is only allowed one main residence for this purpose, even if they continue to live in more than one property. Before the marriage, each could have their own main property which would qualify for the relief.

The Clooneys will have two years from their wedding to elect which of the properties they use as a home should qualify for relief.

In all honesty, that is probably where the similarities end.

As would be expected from an A-list celebratory wedding, the world's media was full of headlines similar to that at the beginning of this article – possibly making countless other London lawyers think that they could have been in with a chance of marrying George Clooney.

But there was an equally inspiring headline for all actors out there who had once dreamed of marrying Amal Alamuddin, a beautiful and highly respected barrister with her own successful career who no doubt has a long list of admirers.

The headline in question, published by The Business Woman, read 'Internationally acclaimed barrister Amal Alamuddin marries an actor'. This headline, and the accompanying article which focused on Amal Alamuddin's accomplishments, was then much reported on in its own right.

As for my dreams, now that my already slim chance of meeting George Clooney, falling in love and having an extravagant wedding in Venice have evaporated, I guess that I will just have to adjust my aspirations to a weekend city break in Venice with my own international (radio) personality.

Previously published in – October 2014

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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