New years eve 2019 saw the first Civil Partnership of a couple of the opposite sex registered at Kensington and Chelsea Register Office between Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan. They had campaigned for the change in the Law and won their legal bid at the Supreme Court in 2018 for the right to have a Civil Partnership instead of a marriage.
Civil Partnerships were introduced for same sex couples in 2005 but had not previously been available to couples of the opposite sex. In 2014 same sex couples became able to convert their Civil Partnerships to Marriage. Both options are now available to both mixed sex and same sex couples.
Quite apart from being able to formalise the commitment between a couple both Marriage and Civil Partnerships give a number of important legal rights, including inheritance and tax entitlements.
The Government believe that around 84,000 mixed sex couples could form Civil Partnerships in their first year. They are proving an attractive option for people wanting to formalise their relationships in a more modern way.
So what should any couples considering a Civil Partnership be thinking about?
Reviewing their Wills should be high on the list. As with marriage, registering a Civil Partnership revokes any existing Wills that the couple may have unless the Will has been properly drawn up in contemplation of the Marriage or Civil Partnership. Taking proper advice and having the Will correctly drawn up is essential. Many couples have been caught out by this over the years and it can cause huge problems when there are children of previous relationships who may lose out as a result. Civil Partners also have rights to the estate under the Intestacy Rules that they did not have as cohabitees, who have no automatic rights to inherit from their partners, no matter how long they have lived together.
The content of existing wills for couples who have been together long term should be reviewed as Civil Partnerships give them access to the same exemptions from Inheritance Tax as married couples, so options for tax planning that were not previously available now are.
As with any big life event, the decision to marry or enter into a Civil Partnership is an important time to review your Will, or to make one if you have never done so. CGM Solicitors Wills and Probate Team will be happy to advise you and prepare a Will to suit your circumstances. Please contact us for further information.