Often the perception of family lawyers is that they are just there for divorce or when people are fighting over their children. But at Burness Paull, our family Law Team has a far wider-reaching scope than that.

We consider ourselves critical to family wealth planning, and family wealth protection. Whether gifting money to assist with a property purchase, advancing an inheritance, or bringing their child into the family business, parents will take advice from their tax advisor, their accountant, or their succession or business lawyer before doing so. All too often, however, the advice of a family lawyer is neglected which can lead to unexpected and unsatisfactory consequences further down the line. 

Taking family law advice early is essential to ensuring that family money or family businesses are protected throughout the generations to follow. For parents, they have no control over their child’s relationships or marriages which may follow the money being passed down, or the business structure being changed. Our advice is always to plan for the unexpected. None of our separating clients entered their relationship intending to separate but it happens and having the security of an agreement in place setting out what is to happen with certain assets in the event of separation occurring, is of huge benefit to all involved. These agreements can ring-fence certain assets from future claims upon separation and provide some certainty as to ‘who will get what’.  

The absence of such certainty is a key reason we see for the most acrimonious of separations. Whether a prenuptial, postnuptial or cohabitation agreement, it is always better to have these discussions whilst on the best of terms with your partner. This is when people are likely to be at their most reasonable and have clarity of thought. We always advise clients that, yes, whilst these agreements may not seem romantic, they are akin to an insurance policy – you don’t want your house to burn down, but you will always have buildings insurance to provide for you in the event it does – and to us, your family wealth and business should be no different. 

David Coutts is Senior Associate – Family Law, Burness Paull

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