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Comment: Those in civil partnerships need to be aware of what happens to wills

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  1. Interesting article, Daniel. Thank you.

    And I would like to add a little advice which I and my partner have learnt.

    You can make a Will yourself. You don’t need to fork out the massive sum that some lawyers ask. Just get an up-to-date UK text on the procedure and follow it to the letter. Then when you have created such Wills and had them witnessed exactly as they must be, you can lodge them with the Probate Office. Go online for the exact address in London. If in the future you want to change your Will you can retrive the old one, and send them a new one. Just make sure that in the event of a double-death there are directions visible in your home as to the location of your Will.

    Next, Power of Attorney. If you’re rendered powerless, like you fall into a coma, it pays to have given your partner, or someone you trust, Power of Attorney for Financial Affairs and for Health decisions. The two forms can be downloaded from the Public Guardian and cost £130 each to register.

    1. My partner and I are about to fill out our two Power of Attorney forms each (which our lawyer gave us a year ago), and last week we checked with the lawyer as to how much his firm would charge. The answer was: £350 for each form, plus VAT, plus the £130 it costs to register each form with the Public Guardian! That’s £700 plus VAT per person, plus £260 per person for registration: a total of £1400 plus VAT, plus £520 for the registration, i.e. over £2000! We were gobsmacked! That’s lawyers for you! Out to make money from simply moving papers around. We expressed dismay, & they then reduced their charges to £600 per person, plus VAT, plus the reg!

      Instead, simply download four Power of Attorney forms (2 x Financial Affairs, 2 x Health) from the Public Guardian website, fill them in carefully, and return them with a cheque for £520 (£130 x 4).

      Daniel, do you agree that in addition to fixing up Wills, fixing up Power of Attorney while you’re alive and well is a wise idea?

      1. Robert in S. Kensington 4 Mar 2013, 6:39pm

        Eddy, does that apply to heterosexual married couples? Same cost?

        1. Well, er, I would hope so. Not denying though, Robert, that when we first got those figures, we did wonder if there wasn’t some kind of homophobia going on! But after a couple of days I got my mind together and emailed for clarification. There were a few emails back and forth and all of the ones coming from the lawyer’s office appeared entirely friendly. I know that doesn’t mean though that there isn’t some homophobia at play. On the other hand, I was waiting in the opticians’ the other day and an old fella in front of me asked for the cost for his new glasses and the receptionist smiled and announced £270 . . . and I don’t think he was gay! We’ve just decided that there are opticians and lawyers and others around in this fair land who are out to make as much money from those who are willing to give it up as they possibly can! Or maybe our lawyer thinks that my partner and I are made of money? Anyway, they’re having no more of it.

      2. Yes indeed!

        1. Thanks, Daniel.

        2. Daniel, could you possibly spell out why having a CP (or, hopefully, a Same Sex Marriage) will not grant each partner in a couple the same rights as will be had by a couple who have given each other Power of Attorney?

          Or, in other words, if you’re in a CP (or, hopefully, a Same Sex Marriage) what will registered Power of Attorney documents grant you over and above the rights conferred on you by your CP (or Same Sex Marriage)?

          Thanks.

          1. Eddy . . Wills and Powers of Attorney are really different and serve very different purposes. They can’t be used for the same end.

    2. Eddy you are right that you don’t need a lawyer to make a will. But you need to follow the instructions very carefully with on-line wills. And many fail to do this. There is also no need to lodge a will with the Probate Office. You just need to keep it safe.

  2. Sca't community members club 4 Mar 2013, 6:41pm

    Just wondering if the deviant brigade will be pushing for equal marriage for bi-sexuals which of course means polygamy.
    Surely it is not right to deny those who were born with an attraction to both sexes the right to marry one of each. To deny this would force the bisexual into adultery to fulfill the other half of their sexual needs.
    Such a can of worms the deviant brigade have opened. This is before we even start on consensual male adult incest!!

    1. why the EXACT same issue rears its ugly head with opposite sex marriage!

      heterosexual men can be attracted to more than one female. Isn’t it discriminatory to oblige them to marry only one woman? After all, you KNOW they’re going to end up fu**ing some woman who’s not their wife at SOME point in their relationship. Almost half of all married men do. Particularly right-wing christian Tories.

      And of course, there’s always the problem with consensual opposite sex incest, such a terrible can of worms was opened up all those many hundreds of years ago when heterosexuals were allowed to marry.

      Those deviant heterosexuals!

      1. and yes, I know the rules: “don’t feed the trolls… you end up having to pick up their poop on your lawn afterwards”. But sometimes, the poor uneducated, dim-witted things are so adorable in their hypocritical idiocy, it’s hard to resist…. just one little post, I swear I won’t feed him any after that, promise.

        1. Sca't community members club 4 Mar 2013, 8:10pm

          You are avoiding the difficult question. Heterosexuals have their right to marry the sex they are attracted to fulfilled by marrying one of the opposite sex.
          Since bisexuals are attracted to both sexes, will the LGBT community of which bisexuals are a part, be pushing for bisexuals to be able to marry one of each sex, in order to fulfill their marriage vows in line with their ‘inherited’ sexuality’ or are you happy to have a situation where their natural desires can only be fulfilled by adultery since they cannot marry one of each gender. This is an LGBT issue , not a hetero issue moron.

          1. Fool, listen very carefully. We all, including pathetic little you, are bisexual to some degree. And all of us, including even 50/50 bisexuals, have other desires beyond that of sexual inclination, such as the desire to be with a specific person. So, fool, the bisexual person, just like the heterosexual or the homosexual person, chooses the person he or she wishes to be with for the rest of their lives. Polygamy is not, as you idiotically believe, an intrinsic condition of bisexuality.

    2. Robert in S. Kensington 4 Mar 2013, 10:08pm

      Last time I checked, polygamy is an uniquely heterosexual phenomenon. Biblical even, practiced by Solomon, 300+ wives and concubines. Incest occurred between Adam & Eve with their children, how else could the planet have become populated? Islam practices hetero polygamy up to four wives at a time. Should I continue listing those pesky hetero deviencies? Oh yes, one more, heterosexual serial adultery. Moron!

      1. s'c'at' is disgusting say homohypoctites. 5 Mar 2013, 1:06pm

        Totally irrelevant response in relation to my question as to how bisexuals will be accommodated in ‘equal’ marriage. If you are flummoxed, just say so. Bisexuals by nature are entitled to one of each sex i n order to have their human right to marry the persons they love are they not? Would you force them to choose one or the other (which discriminates against their orientation) or would you legalize polygamy?
        Which is it idiot?

        1. Dave North 5 Mar 2013, 1:14pm

          FFFFFFFFUUUUUUUCCCCCCK OFFFFF

  3. Dan Filson 4 Mar 2013, 7:00pm

    Intestacy should actually take care of most things, but if one in a civil partnership, or – soon, Parliament willing – a marriage intends to leave bequests or make provision for some body or someone other than their partner then they should make a fresh will soon after the civil partnership or same sex marriage. The Will can also deal with what should happen to the estate if both should die or if the other partner dies first. Even if all is go to the surviving partner, the Will can state who is to be executor – if your partner’s stuck in Australia when you die, you might not want your mother dealing with your under-the-bed DVD and magazine collection; and you might want to say where you do or don’t want to be buried. If you have family such as children or an ex-wife from before the civil partnership and your estate is really large, you should think of making appropriate provision (I won’t say over-generous) for them, even if all are adults now, to avoid any challenges to the Will.

    1. Very true, Dan, very true. Many people don’t think of these eventualities, do they. In our Wills my partner and I have specified every single thing that is to happen from the moment of death onwards. We’ve learnt to do this from witnessing too many fiascos when people have died. For example, clause One in one friend’s Will clearly stated he wished for an secular funeral, in a crematorium. What happened though? His parents persuaded the celebrant that he did believe, “really; at the end of the day”, and so a prayer was said. In addition, an enormous damn crucifix has permitted to remain fully visible throughout the ceremony. Our friend had failed to be specific. One can be as specific as one likes, including, for example, that one is to be taken from the house in nothing more than a white van and cremated at the first opportunity with a not a person being informed until after the event! ;-)

      1. Dan Filson 5 Mar 2013, 3:07pm

        The will may not bind the executors or family as to funeral arrangements but it could give a powerful steer that a priest should do well to accept. The trouble with Catholicism is the concept of “lapsed Catholics” even for those who have adamantly left the church and want nothing to do with it ever again. And families that do not accept the gayness of the deceased will cheerfully trample over their wishes

        1. Wills are sometimes/often only read after a cremation or funeral. So if those wishes are important in addition to a will executors should be informed of requests beforehand. There are lots of stories of a will stating a preference for a funeral . . only being read after a cremation has taken place.

          1. Hmm. Very interesting! When I was an executor I demanded to know what was in the Will BEFORE the cremation/funeral took place. But I acknowledge that not all executors may do the same, and I now see that even though they might there is a possibility that the Will cannot be physically retrieved in time, for example in the case of it having been stored not with a known lawyer but with the Family Probate Office.

            Is there a way of legally enforcing those remaining to follow wishes you have expressed regarding what is to happen following your death, I wonder? I had thought clear instructions in the Will would manage this, but obviously not necessarily.

    2. You only need to consider providing for people/relatives if they are ‘dependant’ on you . . if that is an issue you really should consult a lawyer before writing a will. If they are not dependants then you don’t have to leave them anything. Sometimes people state the reasons why in the will.

      1. Dan Filson 5 Mar 2013, 3:09pm

        Yes and no. There are successful challenges to wills where all concerned are adults and not dependent in the usual meaning of the word. Cutting out your adult offspring for example can still it open to a challenge.

        1. Indeed a will can be challenged . . but not on the basis that a testator should have left something to adult nopn-dependent children. Those challenges are on the basis of capacity or undue influence; disproving those claims can be established without leaving legacies. Indeed even where legacies are made the will can still be challenged on the grounds above.

  4. When CPs get (automatically) converted to same sex marriages then does the will get revoked again ie do we need to do another will at the same time as the conversion happens?

    1. Jesus and Mohammed! I hope not! The lawyers could raking it in if that happens! (Eyes diminishing interest rates and rocketing food and fuel prices!)

    2. Are CPs to get automatically converted to marriages?

      1. No, Under the current proposed legislation, CPs will not automatically get converted to marriages; it will be up to the individual couple whether or not they wish to remain as CPs or convert. Similarly, same-sex couples will have the option of entering into a CP or a marriage.

        Which is why it’s one unholy mess and really needs sorting out PDQ. Then again, CPs should never have come into existence and we should have had marriage equality from day one.

        1. Dan Filson 5 Mar 2013, 3:12pm

          Politics is the art of the possible. The Blair government in 1997 did not know whether it could get through a straightforward same sex marriage bill, in the Lords anyway, and even today we don’t know how the Bill will fare. But in principle I agree as with also the removal of all the hereditary peers – the 92 rump was the price paid for removing the others.

          1. In my submission to the Committee discussing the Bill I’ve urged them to upgrade all CPs to Civil Marriage, to thus end CPs, and to ensure that the general public perceives that same-sex couples access the same institution of Civil Marriage as do heterosexual couples.

      2. If you want to automatically convert from a CP to a marriage then there is an option for that under the new bill I think. You don’t have to take up the option.

        It’s interesting that the bill says if you chose to take up the option then the marriage is backdated to when you did the CP NOT when you did the conversion. Perhaps this is why they have done this so as to not make problems with dates ie it will be treated as though you never did a CP and you always did a marriage????

        1. Absolutely John . . that is one of the reasons for effectively back-dating the marriage. But as others have said there will be no compulsion on people to change civil partnerships to marriages.

  5. I am not a lawyer, but apparently you have to be very careful if your estate isn’t absolutely boring and straightforward, e.g. if overseas property is involved.

    1. Dan Filson 5 Mar 2013, 3:13pm

      French succession laws are quite different, for example.

  6. What I’d like to know is: if one half of a civil partnership refuses to discuss or even think about wills and the eventuality of death, what should the other partner do? Proceed with a separate will rather than a joint will???

    1. Can you have joint wills? A will is on the death of an individual not a couple?? you can put clauses/considerations in it to cater for when you may die together eg plane crash but a will is normally done by the individual isn’t it?

    2. The reluctant partner surely just needs showing how wise and sensible it is to think ahead. He or she just needs convincing. The wisdom of Wills is just so obvious. Maybe he or she needs to be confronted with the worst possible scenario that could happen to them in the event of their partner’s death? That might do the trick. Basically a bit of counselling is needed. People don’t like to think about death, but we all have to in the end! I know that now that my partner and I have got our Wills, our Living Wills, and exactly what is to happen in the event of our deaths sorted out and specified (even involving talking to undertakers about the options they offer!), we are now both so relieved. Now we can live hopefully long lives to the full, knowing that if we’re out in the car tomorrow and a loon comes round the corner and kills one or both of us, all will be taken care of in exactly the way that WE want!

  7. Anthony Carter 4 Mar 2013, 10:30pm

    Yes. In England. Not true. however, in Scotland, where there is no need to make new Wills.

  8. Equality Network 5 Mar 2013, 9:45am

    Anthony is right. The advice in this article does NOT apply to Scotland, where marrying or registering a civil partnership does NOT revoke an existing will. If that will refers to “spouse”, “partner” etc, it would be a matter of interpretation whether that means the spouse / partner at the time of writing the will, or the spouse / partner at the time of death (if that’s a different person).

    One reason legal advice in writing a will is so important!

    1. Thanks for pointing this out.
      The law in Scotland is different from England and Wales in many areas.

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