Posted on 12.4.16 by Christine Thornley
Estate planning for most people can often be a tricky undertaking with lots of scenarios and aspects to consider. When it comes to estate planning for same-sex couples, there can be even more considerations that need to be thought about and possible scenarios that need to be skilfully handled.
Our highly experienced Wills, Trusts and Probate team are used to dealing with sensitive matters and are firmly in the 21st century. This isn’t necessarily the case for some law firm who remain in the ‘old school’ category, which means they are as educated and understanding when it comes to specific issues such as same-sex couples.
The law per se for same-sex couples is now the same as heterosexual couples, but it’s the individualised approach and interpretation that needs to be handled successfully. Long-term relationships for same-sex couples have been around for decades, however, the law has finally been brought up-to-date with real life.
In October 2015, the second set of official statistics on same-sex couples were released from the Office for National Statistics. These figures showed that since the legalisation of gay marriage in March 2014, 15,098 couples have taken up the option. Roughly half of these converted their civil partnership and the other half formed new marriages.
Interestingly, 55% of marriages were between two females, with an average age of 37, and 45% were from male couples with a slightly older average age of 40. The summer months are fast approaching (can you tell from the weather?) which is likely to see an increase in marriages with this being the most popular time. Last year saw a tripling of same-sex marriage from around 200 in January to over 600 in May and June (there are no figures yet for marriages after June 2015).
How Marriage can impact on your Estate?
There are still a vast number of same-sex couples who haven’t entered into a marriage or civil partnership, but there are often numerous tax benefits for those who do. It’s also very important to note that getting married or entering into a civil partnership revokes any previously made Will.
The reason this can be vital is that although we do live in an accepting society the vast majority of the time, some family and friends remain intolerant when their son or daughter or child-hood friend reveal that they are gay. It shouldn’t be the case, but on rare occasions it still is.
Getting ‘lawfully wedded’ brings with it certain rights and as mentioned above it also revokes any Will that has been made by you or your partner. This means people and family members may be now set to benefit from your estate who weren’t previously in line to do so. These may be family members who you have fallen out with or who have expressed disappointment with your decision.
These delicate and often complex family histories need to be dealt with expertly by specialist solicitors. Not organising your estate even lead to feuding battles after your death between your grieving partner and your unaccepting family members. Making a Will and planning your estate with a professional ensures your ultimate wishes have been put down in writing, witnessed and signed correctly so that everything is legally binding.
Generally speaking, same-sex couples have fewer children than heterosexual couples and often focus more on their career development, both of which lead to greater disposable income. This makes it important to plan who is to inherit your estate carefully and also choose the executors of your estate wisely.
Our expert team here at Gorvins are here to help and advise you. Our friends over at Gaydio are also assisting us in helping same-sex couples to think more carefully about their estate and planning for the future. If you would like to speak to me or a member of the Wills, Trusts and Probate team, don’t hesitate to call us on 0343 507 5151 or alternatively you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.