Marital agreements, pre-nups and wealth protection

Pre-nuptial agreements are now a standard part of protecting a family’s assets and, if prepared well, they are usually upheld by the courts. Such agreements can also be prepared for married couples as part of their wider family’s wealth and estate planning.

How pre-nuptial agreements can help

Pre-nuptial agreements (or pre-nups) clarify in the best of times what should happen in the worst of times. Sadly, this is often needed as nearly half of marriages break down.

  • For families who wish to protect their wealth, pre-nuptial agreements have become an accepted way forward. For example: 
  • Where couples are getting married for the second time, pre-nups are the obvious way of ensuring that property goes to children from previous relationships 
  • Where trusts are involved, pre-nuptial agreements form an integral part of a wealth protection strategy 
  • Where family businesses share ownership, they are a natural way of protecting the wider family 
  • When property or business interests are being passed down to the next generation, they provide protection in the case of divorce

A key feature of pre-nuptial agreements is recording what assets are brought into the marriage, and their values. These assets are then known as “non-matrimonial assets”, so they are treated differently by the courts.

Even when a couple is already married, post-marital agreements can be extremely effective. Most commonly, they are used when a younger generation is being brought in to a business, to set out clearly the position for them and their spouses, in the case of a divorce.

Our experienced family lawyers can prepare pre-nuptial agreements and post-marital agreements for a fixed fee. Much depends upon the level of discussions to be had, and how you want to be supported.

Our family and divorce lawyers

  • We have one of the largest and most respected family law teams in the country. All our family solicitors are experienced in preparing pre-nuptial agreements and post-nuptial agreements – and handle the discussions intelligently and, above all, sensitively. 
  • Our family solicitors work closely with our top rated wealth protection lawyers, who specialise in trusts and tax as well as newer arrangements such as family investment companies. 
  • Seven of the partners in our family law team are Fellows of the International Academy of Family Lawyers. The preparation of pre-nuptial agreements often involves cross-jurisdictional wealth, and working with lawyers in other jurisdictions is essential.

Our experience

  • We have considerable experience of helping clients with marital agreements and wealth protection. Some examples include the following: 
  • Working with couples who are getting married for a second time and wish to pass on their wealth to the children of their previous relationships (a first step in planning their estates and wills) 
  • Advising a prospective husband in relation to a pre-marital agreement relating to the protection of a family business, including trust assets and a farming business that had been in the family for many generations 
  • Acting for an urgent high net value pre-marital agreement with complex international issues involving a number of different jurisdictions, advising the husband on the terms of the agreement and liaising with lawyers overseas regarding the impact of the agreement in their respective jurisdictions 
  • Acting for a client, who had considerable global family wealth, in a complex pre-marital agreement with international aspects including choice of jurisdiction under the European Maintenance Regulation – the drafting was undertaken at short notice and was completed quickly due to the impending marriage date. 
  • Working on a case where the High Court considered whether a pre-Radmacher agreement could be upheld – claims were being made against substantial family wealth, mainly held in trust.

Our clients 

  • Clients with relatively modest wealth benefit from our fixed fee services. 
  • We also help individuals with complex tax or business affairs, in order to clarify their financial relationship moving forward. 
  • We are often instructed by other professionals, such as accountants and professional trustees. Our knowledge of trusts and wealth protection measures is a key part of our expertise when drafting such agreements. 
  • Our clients increasingly come to us for advice before their marriage, looking for help in defining their financial relationship. If handled well, this supports the marriage, and does not undermine it.

What our clients and others say about us

Our family solicitors are regarded nationally as market leaders. We are highly rated in both Chambers UK and Legal 500, following independent research. Comments about our family lawyers from peers and clients include the following:

  • “Mills & Reeve LLP has a ‘superb’ reputation …” Legal 500
  • “He ‘gets his point across in a carefully considered manner without being aggressive; he is amazing a real gentleman.’” Chambers UK
  • “This firm provides a London quality of service with a regional price tag.” Chambers UK
  • “… an ‘insightful strategic thinker’ and a ‘highly efficient operator with great interpersonal skills. She is well liked by clients and peers for her no-nonsense and practical approach’.” Legal 500
  • “… ‘inspires confidence’ in clients.” Legal 500

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