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Supreme Court ruling on civil partnership will affect inheritance and tax rights

3 July 2018

The Supreme Court has ruled that a heterosexual couple can enter a civil partnership, offering legal and financial protection for both parties and a host of benefits including inheritance, tax, pensions and next-of-kin arrangements.

Rachael Griffin, tax and financial planning expert, Old Mutual Wealth, said: “The future of civil partnerships has been swung wide open as the Supreme Court’s landmark judgement has opened the door to a myriad of different duos. It increases the pressure on government to determine who deserves the inheritance and tax rights that marriage and partnerships involve.”

Griffin points to a number of high profile cases of siblings living together in later life for many years fighting to be afforded the same rights as spouses on death.

In 2017, there were 19 million families in the UK, a 15% increase from 16.6 million in 1996. Married or civil partner couple families in the UK were the most common type of family, accounting for 12.9 million.  The second largest family type was the cohabiting couple family at 3.3 million families, followed by 2.8 million lone parent families.

Griffin added: “The question for the government is: what is the purpose of civil partnerships? With a review due in 2020, this will be up for debate. It is possible that the government have been mulling scrapping these partnerships altogether.  Today’s judgement may mean policymakers need to think again.

“The real issue is with the UK’s more than three million cohabitees who are particularly vulnerable, for example a woman who has looked after children for more than 20 years could be left in poverty when a relationship ends.

“We need sensible policymaking to consider how we afford rights to people who live together for an extended period of time. By doing so, the issue of siblings living together in later life could also be solved and it may prevent the need to further extend civil partnerships to multiple groups of people.”


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