Civil Partnerships are legal relationships that became available from the end of
2005. They are only available for same-sex couples. This should not be confused with
a couple just living together as ‘partners’ (whether same-sex or not) who have not
entered into a formal legal relationship.
For Wills and inheritance, Civil Partnerships are treated just the same marriage.
Thus if you are:-
Single, even if you live with a ‘partner’, the only people to inherit from you (unless
you say differently in a Will) will be your blood relatives. Your partner might be
able to challenge the situation on the basis that they had become financially dependent
upon you - but that involves the courts, along with a guarantee of expense and uncertainty
Entering into Civil Partnership, then the process automatically revokes all existing
Wills (unless the Will has very specific instructions to the contrary)
In a Civil Partnership, then your Civil Partner would receive much of your estate
even without a Will - but NOT all of it (see Intestacy)
Separated or in the process of ending a Civil Partnership, then there is no change
to inheritance - your Civil Partner will still receive exactly the same as when you
were living together, unless you update your Will
Divorced (that is right through to granting of the equivalent of a Decree Absolute,
not just a Decree Nisi), then your existing Will remains totally valid but your ex-Civil
Partner is treated as if they died on the day of the divorce (so if named as Executor
they could not act in the role and any gifts to them in the Will would fail)
Previously widowed, (whether from a previous marriage or a previous civil partnership)
there may be major inheritance tax savings available but only if you make a special
type of Will to exploit the transferable Nil Rate Band
For tax purposes a couple can receive spouse exemption to set against inheritance
tax, but only if it is a formal, legal civil partnership.
A Civil Partnership is as significant as marriage as a life-changing event and changes
to it should be a reminder to update your Will.
Wills and Civil Partnerships
Your legal status in respect of Civil Partners is important when planning to make