‘GAY’  RIGHTS are FINALLY RECOGNISED, by the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010 (“the Act”), enacted 1st January 2011. The most important practical advantage is the right to enter into a civil partnership, thus giving same sex civil partners ‘spousal’ inheritance rights.

On registration of a civil partnership,  same sex civil partners will be treated in the same way as spouses  in  the areas of property, social welfare, maintenance, pensions, tax and sucession. As with marriage, registration of a civil partnership revokes a Will.  Therefore, on entering a  civil partnership, it is important to be aware this will revoke  existing Wills. Civil partners should make new Wills that comply with the provisions of the Act. Civil partners have the same legal rights as spouses to share in estate

Where the deceased civil partner has no children, then that civil partner must leave half of his/her estate to the surviving civil partner. The surviving civil partner of a deceased civil partner, who has children, is entitled to one third of the deceased’s estate irrespective of what is contained in the Will, (analogous to the ‘legal right share’ of a spouse under the 1963 Succession Act.) Unlike a spouse, a surviving Aivil partner does not have a guarantee to the one-third share, where the civil partner dies, leaving children. If a child of the deceased civil partner challenges the Will seeking provision, the share of the surviving civil partner may be reduced. Therefore, your new Will must leave one third of your estate to your civil partner. This is over and above jointly held property that passes outside a Will to the surviving joint owner.

Where a civil partner fails to make a Will and dies leaving no children, the surviving civil partner, like a spouse, is entitled to all of the estate. If the deceased dies leaving children, the civil partner is, like a spouse, entitled to two thirds of the estate. Again, this could be reduced if an application is made by a child of an intestate deceased civil partner, as such provision the Court may make for that child may reduce the surviving civil partner’s two-thirds share. Therefore, it is in both civil partners interests to deal with their Wills jointly and perhaps discuss the provisions with respective children.  It is now also tax efficient because the child of your civil partner will get the same tax treatment as your own child and all children will have the ‘child’ tax threshold. This is a very generous tax concession analogous to that extended to stepchildren. The Gay & Lesbian equality network has published a useful guide: