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.
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.
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