The question of inheritance can unwittingly cause rifts and dissention within a family leading to legal challenges and in the worst case, a fractured family. One of the most regrettable situations that families face is that gay family members are confronted by a hostile attitude from within their own family and when a gay partner is introduced things often worsen. Over time a gay partner may be tolerated during the course of the relationship. However, what is frequently not considered is how your gay partner may be treated when you are not around. The family's stance may change completely and sometimes when a gay person dies their family will often not accept that their deceased relative has left their entire estate, or the lion's share, to their gay partner and immediately mount a legal challenge to the will when this is discovered.
The question of how and to whom you leave your estate must be properly thought through to avoid leaving a difficult situation behind you. The family dynamic can be further skewed by the fact that families are far less straightforward than in the past and more people than ever are deciding to come out in later life. Gay people have sometimes been in a heterosexual marriage prior to their gay relationship and have children from their previous marriage. The complex question of surrogate birth mothers should always be kept in mind, particularly as a surrogate mother, in some jurisidictions is regarded as the legal mother even if there is no genetic connection between her and the baby. If the baby's status is not on a sound legal basis there could be problems for the remaining partner and the baby.
Even greater attention must be delivered to the will involving an estate which includes a business, more particularly if the business is to continue running. There may be a commercial premises involved or the inheritance may include assets and plant essential to the running of the business, if your benefactor decides to liquidate those assets the business could grind to a halt. It is not unknown for many things of these things to be overlooked, especially by people who never actually make it clear what their intentions are and who they wish to advantage. Some people make assumptions that those they leave behind will be kind and reasonable; reality can be far from the ideal state of affairs envisaged by the deceased.
Any children arising from your gay relationship must be legally yours and crystal clear instructions about guardianship should be enshrined in your will relating to their position whilst they are under the age of majority.
So, in order to avoid conflict, the terms of your will must be unshakeable and absolutely explicit if you are to avoid a legal bloodbath that results in your inheritance being delivered to the lawyers and not the person you care about most as the legal fees whittle away your estate.
Nobody really likes thinking about their will but equally nobody likes to think that their life-partner will be left with an impossible situation to resolve. You will need a rock solid will to make sure no one can dispute your wishes when you are not here to put them right. The lawyers at Giambrone will be able to put the entire situation on a sound footing and advise you how to make absolutely sure your wishes will be honoured.
For further information about your will and other inheritance issues please click here.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.