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Civil Partnership

QUESTION: My boyfriend and I want to buy a flat. As a same-sex couple, we are also considering a civil partnership. What are the advantages?

The 2004 Civil Partnership Act places same-sex couples in the same position as married couples in regard to the sharing of the assets, including property and tax law. There are pros and cons.

Where two people have agreed to register as partners (i.e. are ‘engaged’) or are registered partners, then if one of them makes a substantial contribution to improving property (subject to any agreement) he will acquire a share in it. Importantly, on dissolution of the partnership (i.e. divorce), either partner can apply for financial relief, and therefore the partners income and considerations (wealth, needs, time spent together, etc) as for married heterosexual couples apply. Whether the courts will recognise partnership (prenuptial) agreements remains to be seen.

The position of a surviving partner is also better. A prior will is revoked by a partnership (as it is by marriage). Further, if one partner dies without a will (intestate), the other has the same rights as the spouse to a main share of the deceased’s assets. If necessary, the survivor also has a claim for provision under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.

Partners also have principal private residence relief from capital-gains tax, and gifts to each other will usually be exempt from inheritance tax.

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