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Civil Partnership Wills

They say that birth and death are the easy parts of life, and it’s the bit in the middle that is difficult. Perhaps they are right! But at least if you have your will written and checked then you won’t have to worry about making your loved ones’ lives more complicated than they need to be should the worst happen to you. A civil partnership will defines exactly what you want to happen to your estate once you die.

Since 5th December 2004, when same sex civil partnerships became legally recognised and could be formed in a registry office, (through the Civil Partnership Act 2004) it has been possible for the surviving partner to inherit in the same way as a spouse would. If there is no will made, then as long as the partnership has been formally registered, the surviving partner will be recognised in law, although the rules of intestacy mean that any children from previous relationships must also be recognised.

Of course, if a will has been made then there will be no legal issues, unless the will is out of date. This means that, if a will has been made before a civil partnership has been recognised, a new one must be made afterwards, reflecting the change. If this is not done, then the original will becomes void, and the rules of intestacy come into play. This could make for some rather messy legal wranglings, which would be distressing for everyone involved. The best course of action is to write a will that reflects exactly what you want to happen to your estate once you die. It is easy to forget to amend a will (or to create one in the first place), but it is extremely important that this is done, for everyone’s peace of mind. Civil partnership wills are something that, with the right advice and help, can prevent any confusion and further suffering at an already upsetting time.

For same sex couples who are not in a formally recognised civil partnership, the only way to ensure that the surviving partner inherits all or part of the estate is to write a will. The rules of intestacy do not cover what are known as unpartnered survivors, no matter who long the relationship may have lasted, and no matter how stable it is. It is possible for the remaining partner to challenge this ruling through the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, but it is a long and arduous journey to undertake.

It is not only a matter of inheritance that makes registering a civil partnership something to seriously consider (although it will ensure that the same inheritance tax exemptions that married couples can claim are allowed) – in a formally recognised partnership, the surviving partner will be able to register the death of their loved one, and claim bereavement benefits such as the survivor pension.  They will also have tenancy succession rights, and may be eligible for some forms of compensation if their partner’s death is ruled accidental or criminal.

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