It is a reality that sometimes the family of a gay couple will not always accept that their deceased relative has left their estate to their gay partner.
Nobody likes thinking about it but a will is important. Many gay couples face an antagonistic attitude from within their own families. Could there be a challenge from someone within your family if you leave your estate to your partner?
However offensive the idea is, a gay partner may be only tolerated during the course of the relationship and once the relative has died the family’s stance may change completely.
It is not unheard for a close relative to mount a challenge to the will, regardless of the fact that in the UK you can leave your estate to whomsoever you choose, when it is discovered that the entire or lion’s share of the deceased estate has been left to the gay partner.
The family dynamic can be further slewed by the fact that families are less straightforward than in the past; gay people have sometimes been married prior to their gay relationship and have children or have had a previous gay marriage and have children from the marriage.
Then there can be step-children, informally adopted children and the complex question of surrogate birth mothers should always be kept in mind, particularly as a surrogate mother is regarded as the legal mother even if there is no genetic connection between her and the baby.
If the baby’s status is not on a sound legal basis there could be problems for the remaining partner and the baby.
There are so many variables to consider when protecting your partner and your estate:
· Protecting your partner’s position if you are unmarried.
· What if you did not divorce your spouse and just moved in with your new partner?
· How can you minimise your benefactor’s tax liability?
· What happens if you lose capacity?
· What can be done to stop your relatives challenging the will?
· How to protect a benefactor who is under the age of majority.
· How to make certain your executors will carry out your express wishes.
· How can you protect your children if you only have an informal agreement with the birth mother?
· How to ensure that the inheritance goes only to the individuals named and not to the benefactor’s family upon their death.
· If you make a will what happens if a benefactor pre-deceases you?
The short answer to all the questions above is to put all the issues that apply to you on a very sound legal footing. You will need a rock solid will to make sure no one can dispute your wishes when you are not here to put them right. Children must be legally yours and crystal clear instructions about guardianship whilst they are under the age of majority.
Even greater attention must be delivered to the will involving an estate which includes a business, particularly if the business is to continue running. There may be a commercial premises involved or the inheritance may include assets and plant essential to the running of the business.
Leave clarity; not a war zone.
The experienced lawyers in Gay Lawyers, Giambrone’s LGBT division, has extensive expertise in protecting the wishes enshrined by an individual in a will, as well as advising on managing the administration and probate.
For further information about protecting your partner and your assets email [email protected] telephone 020 7043 5928