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  • Writer's picturekellygrigg

Tackling predatory marriages – a game of whack-a-mole

‘Look how far you’ve come’ is the cutting barb thrown by Marcia Roy, wife of media mogul Logan, at Willa, girlfriend of Connor Roy, in HBO’s Succession. Willa’s retort of ‘Well look at us both, right’, is a wry acknowledgment of their shared status in the family as ‘gold diggers’. While Logan and Connor are far from victims and at the extreme end of the wealth scale, with an ageing population, individuals on the hunt for elderly, wealthy spouses are on the rise.

An increase in predatory marriages has now attracted the scrutiny of the Law Commission, which is setting its sights on potential loopholes in the law being exploited by so-called predators. Currently, under English Law, an existing will is declared null and void by marriage or civil partnership. This month, the Commission called for this rule to be reconsidered to protect against predatory marriages.

A predatory marriage recognises where a vulnerable, often elderly, party has been induced to enter a marriage, usually for financial gain. A marriage will automatically cancel out any prior will, leaving the vulnerable party to die intestate (without a will) and the surviving spouse able to claim the first £270,000 and half of the rest of their estate – or indeed the entirety of the estate if there are no children or direct descendants.

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