Garner & Hancock, Family Law
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Assets and Property in Prenuptials

What happens to Assets already owned on marriage or inherited? Can I protect this in a prenuptial agreement?

Such assets include:

(a)   Any wedding presents given by that party’s family or friends,

(b)    Any assets subsequently received by that party by gift from a third party or by inheritance,

(c)   Any assets subsequently received from the other party as a present to mark a birthday, wedding anniversary or religious festival,

(d)   Any clothes, sports equipment and other personal possessions intended for his or her sole use subsequently purchased. You can specify as to a minimum sum.

(e)     Any income derived from any assets.

You will need to decide what to do with such items on any divorce.

You can take a broad brush approach. Presents given can be kept by the receiving party.  If  a purchase is for the use of the family and whoever paid for it, remains jointly owned. This is dealt with more in the next question.

How does the law regard those things we buy either for each other or for the home?

If the payment came from one parties sole bank account it can be agreed that this belongs to the paying party. If one party has paid for it from a joint account, then it should be regarded as jointly owned. So you can pretty much agree how an item will be owned in any circumstances.

Please note that the more complex this provision the more proof you will need to show how it has been paid for. So keep your written records.

What if one party gives gifts to his/her family; can that come from their respective share?

This can be complicated to administer.  The usual and more simple of dealing with gifts  to third parties is to agree that neither will give more that a certain amount. If a party does give more that the amount agreed say £500 then anything above this sum will be treated as being from them and taken out of their share.

I want to protect my property that I have brought into the marriage.

This is what most people want to protect. Please note that you can protect such assets in other ways too, which you should explore with your solicitor. This could trust deeds and wills.

Such options could also protect assets where the monies have come from third party sources such as parents or parents have given the property to their children for tax planning purposes.

My parents want their investment protected is a prenuptial agreement a tax efficient way of giving away their assets.

If the transfer has already been made before marriage then it could be protected by a pre-nuptial agreement or a trust deed (but note that a trust deed could defeat the tax efficiency of the transfer so seek good tax advice).

Mr Hancock or Mrs Zoller at Garner & Hancock can advise you on this further. If the transfer is made post marriage it may be more difficult to protect if you do not have a pre-nuptial agreement. This scenario also included inheritances receive post marriage.

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