The introduction of the Civil Partnership Act in December 2005 means that, on the death of a civil partner, money and property that is transferred to the surviving partner will be exempt from taxation, as it is for married couples. The amount that can be passed on tax-free to a surviving civil partner in 2013 remains £325,000.
If you and your partner register your partnership and one of you subsequently dies, the surviving partner inherits in accordance with the rules of intestacy if there is no Will. He or she has the right to register the partner’s death and may be eligible for bereavement benefits. The survivor can also claim a survivor pension, has tenancy succession rights and can claim compensation for criminal injuries or fatal accidents. However, under the intestacy rules, which take into account other people, such as children from an existing or previous arrangement, the surviving civil partner may not inherit all of the deceased’s assets..
Previous Wills become void
For this reason, it is important to make a Will after registering your partnership as any previous Wills become void. If you have an existing Will, you can either arrange for it to be amended before you register to allow for the eventuality of a civil partnership, or it can be amended afterwards.
If you choose not to make a Will, your civil partner will inherit under the rules governing intestate estates, which will take into account other people, such as children from existing or previous relationships.
And if you are not in a civil partnership
If a same-sex partner dies without leaving a Will, the remaining partner may lose any claim on his or her partner’s estate. The law of intestacy does not recognise an ‘un-partnered’ survivor. So if your partner dies intestate his or her estate will go to parents, children, siblings and remoter relatives. You could be left with nothing.
The importance of making a Will
It is clearly very important for lesbian or gay partners to make wills. If there is no will or no provision has been made for a remaining partner the only other avenue is to make a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.
To make a claim it is necessary to show that you have been ‘maintained, either wholly or partly by the deceased’. Where there has been an equal relationship in which both partners have contributed to their life together, it may not be possible to show dependence.
Consult a lawyer
If you decide to enter into a civil partnership or make a Will, it is important that a qualified lawyer with expertise in this field is consulted. Close Thornton Solicitors in Darlington has specialists in this area. Please contact them on firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.close-thornton.co.uk for further information.
The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.