Legal consequences of marriage in the United Kingdom

From Academic Kids

This is a list of legal consequences of marriage in the United Kingdom, as of 2004.

  • When a married couple separate, the courts have wide powers to divide their property and may set aside prenuptial agreements. (When an unmarried couple separate, the courts have little power over property and may not in general set aside contracts between the partners.)
  • Wills (unless made in contemplation of marriage) are revoked on marriage. Similarly, a divorced former spouse cannot benefit from a will made before divorce.
  • No inheritance tax is payable on an estate inherited by the surviving spouse in a marriage. (Inheritance tax is payable on an estate left to an unmarried partner.)
  • The surviving spouse inherits part or all of the estate of a spouse who dies intestate. The exact rules for intestacy are different in the countries of the UK. In England and Wales, if there are children, the survivor inherits the first 125,000 plus personal possessions plus a life interest in half the remainder; if there are no children but the deceased has surviving parents or siblings, the surviving spouse inherits the first 200,000 plus personal possessions plus half the remainder; otherwise the survivor inherits the whole estate. (An unmarried partner inherits nothing if their partner dies intestate.)
  • The surviving spouse is paid a proportion of their deceased spouse's pension.
  • For the purposes of capital gains tax, a married couple can claim private residence relief for only one dwelling, even if they live apart. (An unmarried couple living apart can claim PRR for both dwellings.)
  • Married partners can possess joint property without needing to agree a contract (unmarried partners need to make a contract to possess joint property).
  • In case of accident or illness of one spouse, the other is considered as next of kin.
  • A spouse of a British citizen is entitled to a residence permit (the unmarried partner of a British citizen may not be, unless they can prove they lived together for two years).
  • A husband or wife may not be compelled by a criminal court to disclose private communications with their spouse.

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