Wills and predatory marriages: Reforms to the law called for at Prime Minister's Questions

Labour MP for Leeds North East, Fabian Hamilton, has called on the Prime Minister and his government to reform the law in relation to so-called ‘predatory marriages’.
Speaking in the House of Commons during Prime Minister’s Questions recently, Mr Hamilton said:
Mr Speaker, a few years ago one of my elderly constituents with late stage dementia was married by a man who befriend her. Upon her death the man subsequently inherited the whole of her estate because under the law as it stands their marriage had revoked her previous will. Hundreds of people since then have contacted me citing similar experiences
Prime Minister Boris Johnson thanked Mr Hamilton for raising the issue and highlighting the injustice, and said that he would secure a meeting with the justice department as soon as possible.
This is not the first time Mr Hamilton has raised this issue in Parliament. In 2018, the MP presented a private members’ bill to the House of Commons on the issue, but so far has been frustrated at attempts to meet with the Registrar General to discuss the reform.
Mr Hamilton’s calls for reform are being backed by two families who have had loved ones suffer from this issue. It remains to be seen whether the act of marriage revoking any former wills – a longstanding feature of English law – will be reformed in the near future.
Whilst there are some grounds in which a marriage can be held void, these avenues are not always accessible to individuals who have suffered in the way described by Mr Hamilton. Such avenues, which could include trying to set aside the marriage, are costly and time consuming. Further, such steps would need to be undertaken during the lifetime of the incapacitated party and the Court of Protection would need to be involved.
Will disputes and inheritance disputes could arise whereby the family members of the loved one who has suffered under a ‘predatory marriage’ may attempt to challenge the position or to make claim against the estate of the deceased via the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.
Whilst this can be an incredibly upsetting and emotional time for Claimants, we have considerable expertise of dealing with will disputes and claims under the 1975 Act, and are similarly well placed to advise on any other form of contentious probate issue that may arise.
If you would like advice about 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 contentiousprobate@georgegreen.co.uk 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 estate 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.