One thing I have noticed in my years of practice, especially when advising long term unmarried couples, is that you become increasingly aware of the flaws in the law we currently have when "marriage" becomes tax advice. However, is all this about to change?
As reported today by the BBC, The Supreme Court has made a landmark decision that could start to have significant ramifications and hopefully start to pull our outdated Inheritance Tax laws into the modern era.
The Supreme Court has held that an unmarried mother and partner for 23 years of the late John Adams, Siobhan McLaughlin, is entitled to claim "Widowed Parent's Allowance", something that had previously been denied to her with the law stating that it could only be claimed if the surviving partner was either married to, or in a civil partnership with the deceased. The key question the Court's decision centred on was whether this restriction "unjustifiably discriminated against the surviving partner and/or their children, and breaches their human rights."
This mirrors a similar case from December 2017, when an unmarried partner successfully used human rights to appeal to the High Court in order to claim bereavement damages that would have otherwise been denied to her.
It is worth highlighting that The Supreme Court cannot change the law. However, by them stating that it is not compatible with the Human Rights Act it could start to put pressure on the government to make changes to the law to ensure that it becomes human rights compliant.
Unfortunately, however positive these decision are, change could still be some way off. Therefore, if you and your partner are unmarried, I would strongly recommend you ensure that you have obtained advice in respect to what will happen to your estate when you die so that you can have peace of mind that you have done all you can, with our current system, to ensure that your loved ones are looked after,
The Private Client team at Gepp Solicitors would be more happy to assist you plan for the future. If you have any questions or wish to book an appointment to discuss your Will, please ring 01245 228127.
This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.