‘Predatory marriage’ is on the increase.

On 26th July 2023, the ‘statutory legacy’ will increase from £270,000 to £322,000.

The statutory legacy is the amount that a spouse or civil partner is legally entitled to receive, where there are children, if the other party dies without a Will (i.e. they die intestate).

The fact that this has increased is, of course, a good thing. But, by the same token, it could also be seen as a bad thing. Why do I say that? Well, it is well documented that ‘predatory marriage’ is on the increase, and we know that the Law Commission are aware of the concerns and are ‘considering the issue’.

Predatory marriage is where someone marries someone else who is considerably older than them and who has greatly impaired mental capacity, purely for financial gain. The act of marriage cancels or revokes any earlier Wills automatically, meaning that when the older person dies, they die intestate. So, after 26th July such people will now receive an extra £52,000 for their predatory, but completely legal, actions. This is, therefore, unlikely to deter anybody from becoming a predatory spouse, because there is much more money to be made from it. If the statutory legacy was, for argument’s sake, £1,000, I think that might have two positives. First, it might possibly make the predators disappear, because it’s not worth it, and second, might it force more people to make proper Wills?

I would be interested to know what you think. What is your view on where the statutory legacy should be, given its potential propensity for abuse? Let me know your thoughts.