Predatory Marriages: Urgent Call to Reform the Wills Act 1837

Predatory Marriages: Urgent Call to Reform the Wills Act 1837

Marriage is a partnership built on trust and love, but what happens when it’s exploited for financial gain? This is the reality of predatory marriages, where vulnerable individuals, often elderly or with diminished capacity, are coerced into marriage for financial exploitation. There’s a growing movement in the UK to combat predatory marriages, focusing on reforming Section 18 of the Wills Act 1837.

Understanding Predatory Marriages: A predatory marriage occurs when an individual marries another, typically more vulnerable, person with the intention of inheriting their estate. The victims are often elderly, lonely, or suffer from health issues like dementia, making them easy targets for unscrupulous individuals.

The Legal Challenge: Section 18 of the Wills Act 1837: Currently, under Section 18 of the Wills Act 1837, a marriage automatically revokes any previous will. This means if someone enters into a marriage, even under dubious circumstances, their new spouse becomes entitled to a significant portion, if not all, of their estate upon their death, unless a new will is made after the marriage.

The Impact on Families: This law can lead to situations where family members, who the deceased intended to inherit their assets, are left with little or nothing. These marriages often remain undetected until the vulnerable individual has passed away, making it challenging for families to contest.

The Campaign for Change: There’s a growing voice among legal professionals, charities, and affected families calling for the amendment of Section 18. The proposed change aims to ensure that marriages do not automatically revoke previous wills, particularly in cases where the deceased was vulnerable.

Proposed Solutions:

  1. Reforming Section 18: The main focus is on preventing automatic revocation of wills upon marriage.
  2. Raising Awareness: Educating the public, especially vulnerable groups, about the risks of predatory marriages.
  3. Enhanced Safeguards: Introducing stricter requirements for marrying individuals with known vulnerabilities, such as compulsory legal advice or medical assessments.

Predatory marriages are a disturbing exploitation of the vulnerable. Reforming the Wills Act 1837 is a crucial step in protecting individuals and ensuring their true intentions for their estate are honoured. It’s important for everyone, especially those with vulnerable loved ones, to be aware of this issue and support the campaign for change. Your voice can make a difference in safeguarding the rights and wishes of the most vulnerable in our society.

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