The UK Parliament debated a ten-minute rule Bill to legislate to ‘stop putting marriages before Wills’, following concerns that vulnerable elderly people are being exploited by later-life suitors who marry them and later inherit their estates as a result, despite what a Will might say.
The proposed changes are:
– Marriage should not revoke a previous Will in every case.
– Registrars should receive better training to ensure robust procedures for safeguarding vulnerable individuals.
– The ‘capacity to marry’ should be established via a simple questionnaire, with medical assessments also available.
– Notices of a marriage intention should be published on the internet.
Howver, Ann Stanyer, a partner at Wedlake Bell, believes that the marriage capacity test should be higher. “The succession rights that flow from a marriage are so far reaching that one would expect that the test of capacity to marry would be at least as high as that required to sign a Will. Sadly this is not the case in English law at present. It is time that the act of marriage and the succession rights that follow should be treated separately as regards the test of capacity,” she said.
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