For most couples, the lead-up to the wedding day is heavily focused on choosing your outfits, décor, flowers, guest list – and all the other beautiful details that form part of this significant day.
But before you get swept away by the avalanche of details that are likely to consume you in the lead up to your wedding, here are ten important legal things to consider:
1. You need to sign your Antenuptial Contract (“ANC”) before you get married.
2. If you get married without signing an Antenuptial Contract, you will automatically be married in community of property.
3. Marriage in community of property results in a 50/50 sharing of all your assets and more importantly, all your debts. This can have significant consequences down the line and can directly affect your ability to conduct business or buy and sell immovable property.
4. It’s very costly to change your marital regime after the wedding so do your homework, get excellent advice up front and make an informed decision that is best suited for your intended marriage.
5. An Antenuptial Contract is not preparation for divorce. It is preparation for life together and it factors in the potential twists and turns that your marriage journey may take along the way.
6. An Antenuptial Contract can protect you from being held liable for your spouse’s debts.
7. South African law is not what you see on Netflix. Rather than believing what you see on TV, enlist the services of a reputable legal team so that they can advise you on the best option for you and your spouse.
8. There are two types of Antenuptial Contract, 1) ANC without accrual and 2) an ANC with the inclusion of the Accrual System. Here are some of the differences between the two.
8.1 ANC with the exclusion of the accrual system results in no sharing between you and your spouse. In other words, “what is yours is yours, and what is mine is mine.”
8.2 ANC with the inclusion of the accrual system results in the spouse partially sharing in what has been accrued at the date of dissolution of the marriage (whether by death or divorce). The spouse whose estate shows no or smaller accrual than the estate of the other spouse (or estate, if he is deceased) shall have a claim against the other spouse (or his / her estate) for an amount of half the difference between the accrual of the respective spouses.
A good lawyer will help you understand the difference, so you can choose the one that makes the most sense for your situation.
9. Update your wills before you get married. This is a significant change and you will want to take your new spouse into account in your will. If you don’t change your will, your spouse will not automatically inherit anything.
10. Ask about the possible creation of a trust in terms of your will to provide for any minors who may inherit in terms of your will.
It may seem overwhelming but the legal aspect of getting married doesn’t need to feel daunting. With the right legal team guiding you through the process, you should feel excited and encouraged to start your union on a solid and united footing.
Getting married is one of life’s biggest adventures! The team at Mason Inc look forward to helping you prepare for your future by drawing up your Antenuptial Contract (ANC) and your wills. To schedule an appointment with Belinda or Sune, get in touch via their contact form in our directory.