Don’t wait for pre-nups to protect your client’s property deposit!

Published: 06/02/2014

Recently announced plans to shake up Britain’s divorce industry include new rules on how money and property should be shared after marital breakdown along with the news that pre-nuptial agreements could be enshrined in law.

‘When pre-nuptial agreements hit the headlines it’s often because of the break-up of a celebrity marriage,’ observed Eddie Goldsmith, Senior Partner at property solicitors Goldsmith Williams. ‘However the protection of such agreements can be very relevant to many people, not just celebrities. Under these new proposals engaged couples would be able to draw up a pre-nuptial agreement which would be legally binding, detailing precisely how any property, money and any other assets owned by the couple would be shared out in the event of the marriage coming to an end.

These “pre-nups” as they are often referred to will also enable couples to ring-fence any property or other assets that they have brought to the marriage and these would not be shared between them in the event of them divorcing.

Whilst the Law Commissions proposals will be published this month, enshrining these in law would need new legislation and that may or may not happen before the 2015 general election. However there are measures that couples can take under current law to protect their interests in circumstances where they are making unequal financial contributions to their property purchase.

In my own firm we always look at the basis for property ownership alongside the conveyancing transaction. There are two bases for ownership – Joint Tenants or Tenants in Common. This latter is particularly suitable when one of the property owners has paid a greater share of the deposit than the other as each co-owner owns a specific share of the property.

Brokers can help couples in such situations by recommending a conveyancing firm that takes a comprehensive approach to the client’s legal needs, thereby differentiating their service offer to this particular client group and in so doing enhance their own reputation.’

Content correct at time of publication

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