Daphne Frank’s devasting account of her mother falling victim to a predatory marriage highlights the need for better protection of vulnerable people who could be targeted by abusers. For more information - https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-leeds-57405590
Members of Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE), the national membership body which supports older and vulnerable people, has seen an increase of 13% in these types of cases.
As it stands, there are few protections in place that help the victim and their loved ones. Once a wedding has occurred, it’s difficult to protect the vulnerable person in question, even with proof of coercion or proof of the victim’s lack of mental capacity. Relatives could also face an emotional and expensive process if they wish to reclaim their loved one’s estate after they’ve passed.
Daphne Franks and her local MP, Fabian Hamilton, is spearheading a campaign to change the law to better protect victims and their families; Wills not to be automatically revoked upon marriage, thorough capacity testing and registrars to have sufficient training to spot potential predators who could be taking advantage of someone.
In 2018, Fabian Hamilton presented a private members bill on the issue to the House of Commons but has yet to meet the Registrar General to discuss the possible changes.
If you suspect a family member or loved one has entered a predatory marriage, it is important that you raise your concerns with them and try to encourage an annulment. If the person in question doesn’t have the adequate mental capacity to do so, you can make an application to the court of protection.
They should be encouraged to make a new will as the marriage will have revoked any previous will. If a person doesn’t have the capacity to make a will, an application for a statutory will can be made to the court of protection, although this is trickier.
These steps can’t fully prevent a predator from marrying and financially or emotionally abusing a loved one. However, conversations centred around your later life wishes are a good step to take as a preventative measure. Formalising these by drafting Wills or Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) will give you, or your loved one, a higher level of protection should you, or they, ever lose capacity.
Where possible, you should speak to a specialist lawyer experienced in this area of law when putting legal protection in place.
Here at Neves, we have solicitors that are members of SFE (Solicitors for the Elderly). These solicitors are specialist trained and have substantial experience in providing advice to older and vulnerable people, their families and carers.
Get in touch with our specialist SFE solicitors by calling 0330 0945 500, email firstname.lastname@example.org or complete our contact form and we'll get back to you.