In our weekly legal column, the Leader, with the expert advice of the team at GHP Legal, sets out to answer some of your problems. Today's question is answered by partner Nathan Wright...

Should I divorce my wife to stop her making a claim on my inheritance?

Q: I left my wife last year to live with someone else. My wife was devastated and as I felt guilty I did not press for a divorce at the time, nor did I do anything about the marital home or finances, I just carried on paying the bills. Now my new partner is pushing me to get a divorce so that my wife cannot make a claim on my anticipated inheritance from my sick father. What do you suggest?

A: Be under no illusions, divorced from you or still married to you, provided she does not remarry your wife can make an inheritance claim against your estate whether you are alive or after you die. Further, claims of this nature are often brought in cases where the non-inheriting spouse is reliant on the beneficiary for ongoing financial support such as maintenance as part of a divorce settlement - the sway being that maintenance as such ends upon the death of the spouse paying it.

The only way to prevent an inheritance claim is to obtain a Court approved Financial Consent Order. Even assets you have acquired after your divorce are only protected against a future claim by a former spouse if there is a financial order in place that ends both your and your ex-spouse's right to make such a claim.

Some people have a pre-nuptial agreement drawn up before they get married (or in some cases a post-nuptial agreement after they are married) to explicitly exclude inheritance assets from being included in divorce assets. In other cases, where there is likely to be a large inheritance, the persons bequeathing the inheritance look at trust or other estate planning to protect it.

Even if you do not wish to divorce your wife at this stage, you can and should still go ahead and formally settle your spousal finances with a consent order excluding future inheritance claims or obtain a clean break order.

This question has been answered by Nathan Wright, a Partner with GHP Legal. If you would like to speak to someone about this or any other legal matter, please visit our website and use the contact us form, or call us on: Wrexham 01978 291456, Llangollen 01978 860313, Oswestry 01691 659194.