Civil Partnership & family provision on death
Robert Peach reports that recent legislation governing civil partnerships, namely the Civil Partnership Act 2004, significantly affects the law relating to those persons entitled to challenge a deceased person’s Will where same sex couples have either entered into a registered civil partnership or not.
Robert says: “English Law has always recognised a person’s exclusive right to determine where they leave their property and assets on death, however, the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, whilst not removing that right provides a route for challenges to be brought against a deceased person’s Will and the Civil Partnership Act 2004 adds to the classes of persons entitled to mount a challenge.
“The potential impact of the Act is dramatic as the surviving civil partner is not merely entitled to apply for financial provision but the level of provision is that applicable to spouses (and any child of the family) - which in effect means that what it was reasonable for a traditional spouse to claim, so now the civil partner is entitled to claim.
“However the position is different for unregistered same sex couples where what they are entitled to claim is limited to reasonable provision for maintenance and a child that was treated by them as being a child of the family has no such entitlement to apply.”
There is therefore a deliberate and marked distinction between provision for those who have registered as a civil partnership and those who have not. Robert strongly advises that anyone considering entering into a civil partnership or who may already have done so should carefully consider what they want to happen to their property on death by seeing a solicitor and having a proper Will prepared - which will then ensure that their wishes are honoured and their loved ones protected.