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Fairytale or Nightmare? Wealth warning for millionaire lottery winners everywhere
Article date: 01/03/2010
As EuroMillions lottery winner Nigel Page and his partner Justine Laycock faced the world's press together, they could not have looked happier.
The Cirencester couple represent a 21st Century fairytale rags-to-riches story, scooping a mammoth £56m jackpot prize.
However, a leading family lawyer from Black Country law firm Higgs & Sons warns that the new-found wealth may not necessarily mean the couple live 'happily ever after'.
Philip Barnsley, head of the family law department at Higgs & Sons said: "Many of us dream of that big lottery win and how it would change our lives. But sadly not everything about a sudden windfall is wonderful.
"Quite apart from receiving thousands of letters asking for financial assistance, and notoriety around the quiet Gloucestershire town in which Mr Page and Ms Laycock live, there are other concerns that could seriously impact on their future together.
"Although the couple have faced the press together, technically Mr Page is the only winner. On all publicity shots taken, you will see his name is the only one that appears on the cheque. This may not instantly appear to be an issue.
"However, Mr Page purchased the winning ticket online, using his own account, and despite being together for over eight years, the couple are not married. In the absence of their marriage, it would appear that Ms Laycock has no financial claim to the winnings."
At a press conference held on the day that Mr Page received the cheque, Ms Laycock claimed that she and Mr Page had not yet decided whether to tie the knot.
Mr Barnsley added: "Doubtless, those advising Mr Page are faced with some tricky meetings in the coming weeks and months.
"If the couple were to split now, Ms Laycock would not be entitled to any of the money, unless she could prove that the online lottery account was funded directly by a joint account in the name of herself and Mr Page.
"However, if they were to marry, despite the winnings being received prior to any marriage, Ms Laycock would be able to make claims against the fortune, under present legislation."
The couple, both divorcees, have three children from previous relationships and Mr Barnsley recommends both should ensure they have a clean financial break from their former partners before getting married.
"I would also expect Mr Page to be advised to enter into a Pre-Nuptial Agreement, in order to regulate the terms of any financial liability if the couple were to separate."