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Philip Barnsley  

Partner, Head of Family

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Pre-Nup Planning Offers Peace of Mind

 

Article date:  12/05/2017

When a wealthy businessman in popular Radio 4 soap The Archers bemoaned the fact his estranged wife had 'grabbed the best divorce lawyer in London', solicitors across the UK united to ask: why didn't he have a pre-nup?

Far from being un-romantic, pre-nuptial agreements are in fact useful financial planning tools for couples entering marriage and civil partnership that actually deliver peace of mind.

Phil Barnsley, Partner and Head of Family at West Midlands law firm Higgs & Sons, said: "Nuptial agreements are fast becoming a cornerstone of wealth protection planning.

"They present individuals and families with the chance to protect their wealth in the event of a relationship breakdown."

The pay-off, he added, was that it created a responsibility on all advisers engaged in wealth protection services to make their clients aware of this increasingly important resource.

In the wake of an increasing number of generous awards made to weaker financial parties involved in family breakups, in 2015 Higgs & Sons produced a ground-breaking paper: Nuptial Agreements, A Shared Responsibility. It was launched to a group of financial advisers, with details on the implications for working with clients experiencing family breakdown.

Phil added: "Since launching the paper, we have received numerous enquiries and assisted a number of clients and contacts with regards to nuptial agreements, and the feedback that we have had is that this information has helped our professional partners develop and sustain relationships with their clients.

"We feel it is important to continuously review the position regarding nuptial agreements so that we continue to add value to our professional relationships as a source of credible, expert advice."

Back in Ambridge, Justin Elliot is now seeking advice from his own specialist divorce lawyer, as estranged wife Miranda demands half of all his assets.

Said Phil: "If Justin and Miranda had had a pre-nuptial agreement, Justin wouldn't now be wringing his hands in distress.

"Although pre-nuptial agreements are currently not legally binding in the UK, a Supreme Court ruling in 2010 changed the way in which they are viewed. It stated that pre-nuptial agreements should be given decisive weight in divorce proceedings particularly in the protection of inherited, gifted or pre-acquired wealth.

"We therefore now have clear guidelines for those wishing to protect family or personal wealth before entering into marriage, and here at Higgs & Sons we are recognised by our peers as providing leading advice in this area.

"Pre-nuptial agreements are becoming standard practice before marriage, and far from being unromantic, they are a necessary part of sensible personal financial planning."

The experienced team at Higgs & Sons offers a service that provides the right lawyer with the right advice at the right cost and the right outcome.

Phil concluded: "Our experienced team will manage the whole process from initial instructions through to the signing of the final agreement.

"Our clients will benefit from working with expert lawyers who not only specialise in this fast changing area of the law, but who also have a wealth of experience in dealing with agreements. Our team is sensitive to the strategic individual and wider family issues that can arise and can offer advice and support."

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