The Government used the recent Conservative Party Conference to announce plans for heterosexual couples to be allowed to enter into civil-partnerships as an alternative to the traditional marriage. Until now, this option has only been available to same-sex couples and the move comes as a result of a decision by the Supreme Court this summer stating that the Civil Partnership Act 2004 was incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights because it applied only to same-sex couples.
Many couples would see the option of a civil-partnership as a way of protecting themselves legally and financially on the death of one of the couple, without the connotations of religion and tradition associated with the act of ‘marriage’ itself.
Clearly there will be significant decisions for many unmarried couples across the country to make if these proposals go ahead and so the Government is now entering into a period of consultation in order to assess the practicalities, logistics and law in specific detail.
Until these proposals become law, people are reminded that currently unmarried couples enjoy very little, if any, legal and financial protection if one of them dies, as an unmarried partner does not receive any inheritance under the intestacy rules. It is therefore crucial for all currently unmarried couples to make Wills and to consider carefully how co-owned property is held.
Even married couples should be aware that Wills which they have made before marriage may no longer be valid unless specific wording has been included within them.
If you have any questions or would like any assistance, please contact our Wills solicitors in our Oxford (01865 244661) or Bicester offices (01869 252244) who would be very happy to help.
More information can be found here