Question: A couple of years ago I inherited a cottage in Cornwall from my godfather. My first wife, our children and I used to visit it regularly until my wife died. It means a lot to me. I married for a second time 12 years ago. I hope nothing goes wrong with this marriage, but if we do split up, will my wife be entitled to part of the cottage? It was inherited by me and I never want to sell it.
Answer: The starting point, really, is fairness and equality when dividing the matrimonial assets. Usually all assets, whether owned jointly or not, tend to fall into the matrimonial pot. This includes assets that you or your wife have inherited during or before your marriage. Accordingly, the court could divide the cottage you inherited if it deems it fair.
Consider entering into a Post Nuptial Agreement with your wife to protect your interest in the cottage.
It can confirm how you both wish your assets to be split in the event of your death, divorce or separation.
Discuss the cottage with your wife and try to reach an agreement. Both of you should seek independent legal advice or, even better, each instruct separate lawyers in relation to the agreement.
To ensure the Post Nuptial Agreement may be enforced by the court if your marriage ever breaks down, your lawyers should advise you on the qualifying criteria for such an agreement e.g. there should be full and frank disclosure and no undue influence, and the agreement should be generally fair.
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These answers can only be a very brief commentary on the issues raised and should not be relied on as legal advice. No liability is accepted for such reliance. If you have similar issues, you should obtain advice from a solicitor.