Sutton: 020 8643 7221 Banstead: 01737 362 131   

Private Client Bulletin 3

A Fraud Marriage and a Funeral?  The Effect of a Predatory Marriage (or any!) on Your Estate 

The UK has an increasing aged population, with an estimated 8.7 million citizens aged over 70. An aging population inevitably brings with it a higher need for care and companionship, reliance perhaps on younger generations, such as children, carers and other friends.  Although the majority of these relationships have the best intentions and are totally innocent, sadly there are a few that are not.

A predatory marriage involves an individual targeting an elderly or vulnerable person, with perhaps dementia or learning difficulties, for the purpose of marrying them, for financial gain.   Often, these relationships are kept secret from an individual’s family, and many are not even aware of such a marriage until their loved one has passed away.   A classic example would be, an elderly widow, in her 80s, with two adult children, diagnosed with dementia getting married to a new partner in secret, who she has only recently met.

 Although we cannot argue that marrying for money is a new concept, quite the opposite, due to an aging population the issue of predatory marriages of the vulnerable is now more prevalent than ever.

Aside from the obvious emotional distress that these marriages can cause to families of vulnerable loved ones, there is also the financial impact, rendering them feeling helpless.

You may believe that you have nothing to worry about, as you or perhaps your family member has a Will already; you may assume this is bulletproof and your Estate is protected, safe in the knowledge that when you pass away, your chosen beneficiaries will inherit as you had planned.  This is, sadly, not necessarily true.

 A marriage (of any kind, predatory or not) revokes whatever Will you previously had, rendering your then “old” Will worthless. 

If an individual marries after the date of their Will, strictly speaking this Will is revoked and the laws of intestacy would then apply to your Estate, meaning the beneficiaries of their Will, would not inherit.   

So, what would this mean for our vulnerable elderly widow with dementia subject to a predatory marriage? Her Will, leaving everything to her adult children, who she has always shared a close relationship with, is revoked as soon as she is married.  This means her estate will no longer pass to her children as she has always planned. Instead, her new spouse (who, remember, the family don’t even know about) will inherit the first £270,000 of her Estate, and anything over the £270,000 mark is split equally between the new spouse and her children, reducing the children’s inheritance dramatically.  The children could see their family home, now in the hands of, to them, a total stranger.   

Marriage, and a number of other life events can have major impacts on your existing Will, this is why it is extremely important to keep your Will under constant review, in particular after a change in circumstances.  

Often an uncomfortable topic to discuss, it may be easy to complete your Will, lock it in a drawer and never think about it again!  I am here to remind you, that you must keep your Will under constant review to ensure your chosen beneficiaries are the ones who will ultimately inherit.  It is perhaps the most important document we ever make, and it is vital that it is reviewed and perhaps updated as our lives are constantly evolving.   

Contact us now for a complimentary initial consultation by calling Sutton: 020 8643 7221 or Banstead: 01737 362 131 or emailing and make sure your Will still does as you intended for it to do!