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  • Hethertons Solicitors calls on couples to make a unique set of New Year’s resolutions

    The festive period is a time of reflection where people often reflect back on the previous 12 months and look ahead to the future, creating resolutions for the New Year that they hope to follow.

    Typically, these are resolutions to lose weight, ‘get fit’, save money or stop smoking, but Hethertons Solicitors in York is calling on couples to consider other New Year’s resolutions to protect their welfare in 2019.

    The number of people living together but not getting married continues to rise in the UK, in fact, this is the fastest growing type of family relationship with 3.3 million families classed as cohabiting.

    With this in mind Sarah Hubery, a Senior Family Lawyers at Hethertons Solicitors, has said that cohabiting couples should consider creating a dedicated cohabitation agreement.

    “Cohabitation agreements are becoming more and more common among couples who intend to live together long-term without getting married.

    “A cohabitation agreement sets out arrangements for who owns what and lets couples document how they will split their property, savings and other assets should the relationship break down. A lot of couples ‘fall-in’ to living together without really thinking about the consequences financially, and just assume they will be compensated at some point should the relationship break down.

    “Agreements often also cover child arrangements and can also deal with debts and joint purchases of significant assets, such as a car, as well as the day-to-day responsibilities for rent and bills.

    “Without an agreement, couples have very few legal rights during a separation, unlike a married couple, which can lead in some cases to the less financially independent partner being left with less than their partner, and sometimes nothing at all.”

    As part of a couple’s plans for the New Year, Hethertons Solicitors also recommended that they should consider writing a new will or reviewing an existing will, whether they are married or not.

    The firm explained that couples that haven’t already prepared a will should do so or risk their wishes not being met if they die. Without a will, an estate will be distributed under the law of intestacy, which could mean that beneficiaries miss out on an inheritance or the estate could be divided up against a person’s wishes.

    The firm also warned those getting married that any former will is instantly revoked at the point of the nuptials being completed, which means that children from former relationships or other family members may be disinherited as the old will won’t be adhered to.

    IT advises that couples should review their will following any significant change in circumstance, such as the birth of a child or death of a loved one to make sure it still reflects their current wishes.

    For those arranging a marriage or civil partnership in the next year, Hethertons also recommend that they consider a prenuptial agreement.

    These agreements, are an effective way of setting out each individual’s assets before a wedding, protecting wealth and existing family relationships, including the care arrangements of children from former relationships.

    Recent case law suggests that in most cases judges are likely to take a prenuptial agreement into account when overseeing a case and uphold it.

    Sarah said: “Prenuptials are becoming far more common these days and are an effective way of protecting a person’s assets or family arrangements prior to marriage.

    “These agreements are frequently used to protect future inheritances or family businesses, but they can also contain clauses on a wide range of issues. Often these are being used to protect early inheritances or ‘gifts’ from parents for deposits for their first family homes.

    “Despite people suggesting that there is something ‘unromantic’ about prenuptial agreements, they can actually help strengthen a relationship by clearly spelling out what will happen should a couple separate, which can help to reduce conflict or distrust.”

    For those already married or in a civil partnership who experience a significant change of circumstance, such as a sudden windfall, they create a postnuptial agreement that can fulfil a similar role, explained Sarah.

    She added: “As we enter a new year now is the perfect time to review your affairs and put things in order for the months ahead. Sitting down with a solicitor and creating these documents and contracts can provide an immense amount of relief and certainty.

    “Despite the best intentions of most resolutions most of us would admit that they often fail within the first few months, but taking these steps early in the year could make significant long-term improvements to your life and relationship well both into 2019 and the years ahead”

    If you would like Hethertons to help you with your New Year’s relationship resolutions, please contact Sarah by calling 01904 528391 or emailing sh@hethertons.co.uk

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