Law reform update: Labour MP meets with Justice Minister to discuss wills and predatory marriages

On 22 June 2021, we published a blog post about Labour MP Fabian Hamilton who had raised the issue of predatory marriages during Prime Minister’s Questions, calling on the government to reform this area of the law.
This issue has now progressed further, with Mr Hamilton meeting with junior justice minister Lord Wilson to discuss the issue. Awareness of predatory marriages and so-called “inheritance hunters” has been gaining momentum in the press and the public consciousness, with campaigners recording more than 70 families who have come forward with stories of those who have suffered through this scam.
The crux of the issue lies within a longstanding principle of English law; the act of marriage will revoke any former wills made by the individual. This has meant that some elderly people, often suffering from dementia, have fallen victim to this scam whereby an individual will propose marriage to them in order to receive their inheritance when the individual passes away.
There have been numerous stories such as these reported in the press. The end result is the individual’s children being deprived of their due inheritance, a great injustice in circumstances where they allege that their parent would not have truly known about the marriage or understood its consequences.
Mr Hamilton has been campaigning for reform since 2018. After his meeting with junior justice minister Lord Wilson, Mr Hamilton said:
I will be following up my productive meeting with further, written proposals to the Ministry of Justice on the technical and legal aspects of changing the law around wills to ensure they cannot be revoked by a marriage” 
For contentious probate solicitors and members of the public alike, this issue of predatory marriages and potential reform of the law is one to watch over the coming months and years. It remains to be seen how far Mr Hamilton and campaigners can go in their attempts to advance reform.
In the meantime, for family members who have been deprived of their inheritance because of this scam, they do have the option of making a claim against the estate of the deceased via the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.
If you would like advice about a potential claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, an inheritance dispute, a will dispute or any type of contentious probate case, please call 01902 424927 and ask to speak to one of our specialist contentious probate lawyers. Alternatively, please e-mail us at providing a brief summary of the issues you wish to discuss with us, along with your contact details.
We have a dedicated practice team of contentious probate solicitors, covering all areas of the UK (with offices near Birmingham and in Wolverhampton) who are experienced in dealing with all types of contentious probate matters, including challenging a will and probate administration disputes and inheritance disputes.
We also have a team of probate lawyers who can assist if you wish to review you current will or to make a will for the first time.
We offer an initial no obligation telephone consultation for contentious probate disputes and we can sometimes act for clients who want to contest a will or commence an inheritance dispute/probate dispute on a no win no fee basis.