Monday, January 21, 2019
Many couples are wedding shortly before one partner dies, presumably for the tax and probate benefits of such transactions. In the United Kingdom, everything that passes to a surviving spouse is exempt from inheritance tax. The spouse also inherits at the probate value, meaning when a major asset is sold the capital gains tax will only apply on the increase of value from when the person passed away.
The Passport Office released a report in May 2018 that there were 190 urgent applications for a Registrar General’s License to get married or enter a civil partnership, an 11% increase from the year before. This can be highly beneficial for those that believe that common law marriages have the same right of inheritance as formal ones. This is not the face, and unfortunately many people do not find this out until it is too late - and the inheritance tax bill is due.
Adult children may dispute a marriage performed in the throes of illness, especially if a will is written that disinherits them entirely or removing a portion of what they believed they were due. They may question if their parent had the capacity for either contract or whether there was undue influence. A last minute marriage will certainly protect the spouse or civil partner, but having a watertight will is also essential to clear up any confusion.
See Kate Saines, Rise in Cohabiting Couples Choosing Death Bed Marriages, Money Pages, January 11, 2019.
Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.) for bringing this article to my attention.