Equality extends in deathadam
Wills are vital legal documents that ensure your assets pass in accordance with your wishes. Dying without a will in place can have serious implications for your family.
If someone dies without a will, there is a set of rules – known as intestacy – which determine who
receives what from your estate.
Partners in unmarried relationships have no automatic right to receive anything, regardless of how
long they may have lived together. And, while the number of same-sex marriages is increasing since becoming legal in March 2o14, there are many same-sex couples who live with their partners but haven’t married or entered into civil partnerships.
The intestacy rules provide that only married partners, civil partners and some other close relatives are able to inherit. Unmarried, gay or lesbian partners who have not registered a civil partnership, people related by marriage and friends have no rights.
The only way to ensure that part, or all, of your estate will go to the people you want it to is to make a will.
Wills should also be reviewed regularly and, in particular, after any significant changes in your life, for example, buying a property or having children – the latter something which, as seen in other blogs we have published in this week of Pride, has become significant easier for same-sex couples after a number of equality-seeking pieces of legislation.
Another thing to consider is that if you get married or enter into a civil partnership after making
a will, that will is automatically revoked unless it expressly states that it is made in contemplation of marriage/civil partnership. If it doesn’t you will need to create new wills.
Another important document to consider when putting your affairs in order to protect you and your loved ones is known as Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA).
An LPA is a far-reaching and important document put in place to ensure your loved ones can act in accordance with your best interests and wishes. Without such documentation your family may find your assets locked away.
There are two different LPAs to consider; one to look after your finances and the other to look after your personal welfare.
There are many reasons why you might need someone to make decisions for you, or act on your behalf, for example, if you were to have an accident or stroke, or develop dementia. There have also been situations where same-sex partners have been excluded from consultation or access to information, in some cases partners have been denied the right to visit a partner in hospital by medical staff or family members.
The personal welfare LPA may also be particularly relevant if you have family members who might exclude your partner or friends. The attorney you appoint would be able to specify who you want to have contact with, where you would like to live, and they can consent to or refuse medical treatment on your behalf.
With all the information we have been providing this week online, this is one more example where equality for same-sex and heterosexual couples is enshrined in law, but whatever your wishes are, the only surefire way of cementing them is by taking the time to make a will.