With the rights of same sex couples in the headlines at the moment, we thought it would be a timely opportunity to provide an overview of the inheritance rights of people in a gay or lesbian relationship. We specialise in inheritance claims and are particularly experienced in delaing with cases on behalf of people from the LGBT community, representing a number of high profile claimants. For a free and confidential case assessment call our legal helpline or email inheritance lawyer Naomi Ireson direct at [email protected]
Unlike many other EU countries, the law in England and Wales has developed in a positive way by mainstreaming the legal position of same sex relationships and ensuring that people have equal rights when their partner dies, regardless of sexual orientation.
Our law deals with this in two ways:
Firstly, the rules of intestacy have been changed to include civil partners.
Secondly the Inheritance Act has been amended to allow inheritance claims by gay and lesbian partners, whether or not they have married or entered in to a formal civil partnership.
The Intestacy rules
If anyone dies without making a will their estate will be distributed in accordance with the intestacy rules.
The intestacy rules now specifically provide for surviving civil partners to be treated in exactly the same way as a surviving spouse. The rules entitle a civil partner to receive the following from the estate:-
- If there are no children the estate shall be held in trust for the surviving spouse or civil partner absolutely;
- If the deceased dies leaving children the surviving spouse or civil partner shall take the personal chattels, the first £250,000 of the estate and one half of the remaining estate upon trust during their life.
- If the deceased dies leaving no children but a parent, siblings of whole blood, or nieces and nephews of whole blood, the surviving spouse of civil partner shall take the personal chattels, the first £450,000 of the estate and one half of the remaining estate absolutely.
Inheritance Act Claims
- If the intestacy rules, or indeed the deceased’s Will, fail to make “reasonable financial provision” for a surviving same sex partner then they may be able to make a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, so long as they fall into one of the following categories:-
- If you are a civil partner of the deceased;
- If you are a former civil partner of the deceased, but have not formed a subsequent civil partnership;
- If for the whole of the period of 2 years ending immediately before the date when the deceased died you were living in the same household as the deceased as his or her civil partner;
- If you were being maintained by the deceased immediately before the date of death.
The Inheritance Act therefore enables people who are in an established same sex relationship to bring an inheritance claim even if they had not married or entered into a formal civil partnership with the deceased.
LGBT inheritance rights – How we can help
Our specialist team of inheritance lawyers are able to advise on inheritance disputes and will disputes as they affect gay and lesbian people. If you require free initial advice on your inheritance rights or think you are eligible to bring an Inheritance Act claim then please call us for a free case assessment on 0808 139 1599 or email [email protected]