Equal civil partnerships finally allow equal access to tax and inheritance perks
There is some confusion surrounding cohabitation and what rights couples have in relation to their property and living together, particularly for same-sex couples. Some people think that if you have cohabited for a lengthy period of time then you become common law spouses or partners and acquire the same rights as couples who are married. Some believe that same-sex couples have fewer rights if they separate than opposite-sex couples. Neither of these statements are true.
Same-sex and opposite-sex couples who are married or in civil partnerships acquire more legal rights and protection once a relationship breaks down than couples who are cohabiting. The Office of National Statistics recently found that:
In light of the significant increase in cohabitation, how can unmarried couples protect themselves and avoid costly legal disputes if they split up?
Firstly, once the decision has been made to buy a property, couples need to consider how they are going to own it. Assuming they are buying the property in their own names, there are two options for ownership: tenants in common and joint tenants.
Owning the property as beneficial joint tenants means the property belongs to both owners jointly. The owners must all act together as a single owner, for example on a re-mortgage or a sale. As joint tenants, the owners do not own specific shares in the property and cannot give away a share of the property in a will. If either of the couple die, their interest in the property passes automatically to the other owner.
Owning the property as tenants in common means the property belongs to the owners jointly but each owner also owns a specific share of its value. An owner can give away, sell or mortgage their share. If an owner dies, their share of the property passes to the beneficiary in their will.
If an unmarried couple are investing unequal amounts of capital in the property then we would recommend that they hold the property as tenants in common and have a declaration of trust drawn up which legally sets out the percentage of the property they each own.
The solicitor acting for a couple buying a property will ask them how they want to hold the property and it will be included in the legal document which transfers the property to the couple. This document is registered at the Land Registry which means there is a legal record of how the property is owned. It is crucial that this record is accurate.
Aside from deciding how you own the property, there are other options available to protect your assets. If you are not married or in a civil partnership, you may want to consider entering into a cohabitation agreement which can confirm the ownership of the property, how each cohabitee will contribute to the running cost and what will happen in the event of a separation. As a property is usually the highest value asset owned, it is important to formally document who owns the property and in what proportions, particularly for unmarried cohabitees and where the property has not been paid for equally.
Couples need to think about what they want to happen if one of them dies and whether they want their partner to inherit the property in the event of their death. In addition to the above, couples should also make a will to give effect to what they agree.
Conversations about separation and death are not always easy when you are about to move in with one another but it is imperative that these issues are dealt with at the outset with both parties understanding the situation in order to minimise stress and any acrimony later down the line. Couples can then decide themselves what is fair in their circumstances rather than having to rely on legal proceedings, which could involve complex arguments spanning both property and family law, after any separation.
If you have any questions about any of the real estate issues covered in this blog, please contact Vanessa or any member of the real estate team. For family related questions, please contact Connie or any member of the family team.
Vanessa is a senior associate solicitor in the Real Estate team and is experienced in a range of commercial and residential property matters.
Connie is a Senior Associate in the family team and has experience of dealing with all aspects of private family work relating to both finances and children.
When I became Senior Partner of Kingsley Napley in 2018, I made a very clear pledge to the firm – that I would make it one of my key objectives to increase diverse talent and foster a culture of inclusivity.
The visibility of the “B” in our LGBTQ+ umbrella is marked every year on 23 September. At Kingsley Napley, we are proud to have bisexual members of our LGBTQ+ and Allies Network and strive for everyone to feel like they can be themselves and bring their whole selves to work. Outside KN, and in this year alone, Robin has come out as bisexual in the new Batman comic, more awareness has been raised about bisexuality with celebrities, such as Megan Fox, Lily Cole, speaking out and there is more representation of bisexual people in mainstream shows, such as Sex Education, Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
Trans adults with full decision-making capacity have the freedom to secure hormonal and surgical interventions to align their bodies with the physical attributes typical of the gender with which they identify (a process known as “transitioning”). However, for those who lack capacity, the involvement of others who are responsible for making decisions on their behalf is required, and the position can be complex as a result. This blog explores the approach to making decisions relating to transitioning on behalf of protected trans people, applying the best interests test and guidance from case law, and discussing the practicalities for decision-makers.
When I told some of my friends I was writing a piece about drag activism, their reaction was almost unanimous…
"Oh, but, is there much to say?"
That's when I realised that drag queens, for many, are more synonymous with big hair and lip-syncing pop hits rather than political consciousness and activism. You can certainly understand the reason for this - we have been totally spoiled in recent years with the explosion of Ru Paul’s Drag Race around the world - the make-up, talents and confidence being a feast for the eyes (and the soul). But we cannot minimise the political importance of Mama Ru’s creation. Who could forget numbers such as “Shady Politics”; the discussions of gay conversion therapy while applying make-up; and Bob the Drag Queen describing his arrest during a 2011 marriage equality protest? Not to mention Nancy Pelosi sashaying into the All Stars season…
Coming out is an extremely personal journey and will be unique to each person. It takes a lot of courage to come out and a person may have to repeatedly do this in their personal and professional lives. Statistics show that 46% of people who identify as lesbian, gay and bisexual and 47% of people who identify as trans feel comfortable to discuss their orientation or gender identity.
How can you put the spotlight on intersectionality to remind others that, even within the LGBTQ+ community, not everyone is treated equal?
Are you proud of who you are, your journey and the person that you’ve become? Do you truly wear your heart on your sleeve? For some, being open and honest about who we are (which includes our gender identity or sexuality) does not come easily and can be extremely hard. It can be even tougher at work, and for those that hide their true self, the energy expenditure is endless. That survival cost of energy makes you less productive, or even worse still, it has a detrimental impact on your mental and physical health.
I am a trans woman who has recently embarked on her transition. Having only taken my first steps on this journey, I am acutely aware when writing this that I have much to learn about myself, about being trans, and about the diverse LGBTQ+ family that I now find myself part of. However, there is one theme that I feel is important to discuss as we celebrate Pride in 2021.
Following on from my colleague Sameena Munir’s blog ‘’pray the gay away: cull conversion therapy worldwide’’, the issue of gay conversion therapy dominates contemporary conversations surrounding LGBT politics and legislation in the UK, but the Government has failed to deliver on its promise to ban it.
For two weeks during Pride month, Kingsley Napley are publishing a series of blogs to celebrate Pride and highlight LGBTQ+ issues from home and abroad.
It’s been 9 years since R&B artist Frank Ocean headed off rumours about his particular pronoun usage in the album Channel Orange by posting on Tumblr that his first love had been a man. Since then, the momentum for the openness and success of queer artists has continued to gather pace, and LGBTQ+ representation in the arts and mainstream media is as wide as it has ever been. This rise has however raised important questions about pigeonholing queer artists, and perhaps most interestingly whether they must always shoulder the responsibility of ‘pushing the agenda’.
In February this year, I attended a virtual talk held by the InterLaw Diversity Forum for LGBT+ History Month. The speakers featured individuals working in the legal sector and each discussed their experience of coming out as trans or non-binary at work. It feels an apt lesson given this year’s Pride theme: Visibility, Unity and Equality.
In January 2020, I was fortunate enough to give birth to a beautiful, healthy baby boy. As far as I know, I am the first partner at Kingsley Napley (although certainly not the first employee) who has a baby who is lucky enough to have two mums. News of my pregnancy was met with overwhelming support from my colleagues. That support continues to this very day, and my wife and I remain truly grateful for the kindness that has been shown to us. However, since falling pregnant I have learnt that not all workplaces are as supportive to same-sex parents as mine. The concept of two mums or two dads starting a family is something that some people still struggle to get their heads around. So this year, for our KN Pride blog series, I have decided to explain the questions, that speaking from my own experience, it is not helpful to say to same-sex parents.
Tomorrow, global organisations across the world are celebrating Global Pride, and I wanted to write to say how much it means to us at Kingsley Napley to celebrate Pride and to support our LGBTQ colleagues.
On sitting down to write this blog, I was a little embarrassed. When you actually take the time to think about drafting legal documents in a way that is gender neutral, it seems to me that the question isn’t why do this, but why not?
In 2012 we formed an LGBTQ* & Allies network at Kingsley Napley (KN). I’m ashamed to say that the impetus to form this network came not from within, but from Scott, a new joiner who upon his arrival was surprised, and critical (rightly so) to find that no such network existed at KN.
The UK spouse visa has been the subject of frequent criticism and has rarely been out of the news since the rules surrounding it were completely changed in 2012. This is predominantly as a result of the stringent and often exclusionary financial requirements imposed. However, when you take a look at the basic relationship requirements imposed by this route, it is exclusionary in an unexpectedly discriminatory way.
This Sunday marks International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia. On this day, over 130 countries around the world draw attention to the various forms of discrimination and violence that the LGBTQ community continue to experience. It serves as a reminder each year of the work which is still needed to achieve LGBTQ equality. David Sleight, a Partner and ally, at Kingsley Napley shares his experience below.
Now is a more important time than ever to be a visible ally to LGBTQ people in the workplace. Discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation continues to take place, often with disastrous ramifications for individuals and businesses.
The current government lockdown is making everyone aware of their living arrangements. Relationships are being put under new pressures and the current emotional and financial impact of the virus may be causing additional stresses in a relationship. It is a sensible time to make sure you understand how you own your property and the implications of such ownership.
There are countless instances of LGBT+ individuals being stigmatised and discriminated against throughout history, including in criminal law. In particular, a number of sexual acts between men have historically been criminalised. This homophobic legislation was compounded by an insidious approach to investigations, which targeted men who were believed to be gay, leading to a large number of men being criminalised, with all of the consequences that a conviction brings, for behaviour that should never have been illegal in the first place.
On the eve of the new decade, 31 December 2019, the first mixed-sex couples officially entered into civil partnerships, granting them the same legal protections as in marriage.
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