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Estate Planning for LGBTQ+ Families: Secure Your Wishes

21 June 2024
Time to read:
3 mins

At Birkett Long, we understand that the LGBTQ+ community has fought hard to get the same benefits enjoyed by heterosexual couples. So, it is important to get legal advice from solicitors with experience of dealing with LGBTQ+ law to ensure that you will receive the best support for your family and that nothing is overlooked. 

Birkett Long’s Wills and Lasting Power of Attorney Team have extensive experience in writing wills and Lasting Powers of Attorneys for a broad range of clients to ensure that their wishes are followed. 

It has been reported that same sex couples are statistically more likely to live together without entering into a civil partnership or marriage.  There is a common belief that by having a “common law partner” means that you each have a legal right to make decisions for the other and that the survivor will inherit their estate automatically when they die, but this is not the case. 

The Intestacy Rules 

When a person dies without a will, the Intestacy Rules follow, which are a strict set of legal rules that determine who will inherit an estate. The Intestacy Rules follow the bloodline, and so may not reflect your wishes if you are an unmarried couple and your partner would not receive anything.  

The only way an unmarried couple would benefit if a will was not made is to try to make a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 to state that they had not been left reasonable financial provision under the Intestacy Rules. This is a costly and lengthy process and does not guarantee that a surviving partner will receive anything.  

By putting in place a will, you solely choose who inherits your estate and in what proportions.  You can include your partner, children, and non-biological or adopted children as beneficiaries to protect their inheritance rights. 

As an LGBTQ+ parent, you may have had to overcome many hurdles to become a parent, and so now is the time to ensure you leave a lasting legacy to them. You can also appoint guardians to look after any minor children. In England and Wales, there is no forced heirship, which means that you do not have to leave your estate to a family member with whom you have fallen out.  

You can also appoint executors to deal with the administration of your estate when you pass away to ensure that your wishes are followed. These should be trusted individuals who can be your friends or family as long as they are over the age of 18.  

Estate planning is not just about the legal formalities but also about ensuring your family is protected and having peace of mind knowing that your loved ones have been suitably provided for.  

Lasting Powers of Attorneys 

Without having Lasting Powers of Attorneys, no one has the legal authority to manage your Property and Financial Affairs, Health and Welfare, regardless of whether you are married or not. 

A Lasting Power of Attorney is a legal document where you appoint one or more people to help you make decisions. There are two types: one that covers your Property and Financial Affairs and covers your bank accounts, pensions and property and the other that covers your Health and Welfare, such as what medicine you receive, what you eat and what care you receive.  

You need to be over the age of 18 and have mental capacity in order to put in place Lasting Powers of Attorneys.  

As we celebrate Pride Month, take the time to review and update your will and Lasting Power of Attorneys, and if you need to put in place new documents, please get in touch with one of our specialists. I am based in our Colchester office and can be contacted on 0330 818 3324 or via [email protected] 

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