How Does Civil Partnership Affect Your Will?
13 July 2018
When you enter into a Civil Partnership in England or Wales, any Will that you already had in place in England or Wales will automatically become void. The only way to prevent this from happening is to make your Will 'in contemplation' of your Civil Partnership, naming the person that you intend to enter into a Civil Partnership with.
This means that if you enter into a Civil Partnership and your Will hasn't been made 'in contemplation' of this, then your existing Will won't be recognised by the law when you die. The law will consider you to have died without having a valid Will in place at all, which is called dying 'intestate,' and in this situation inheritance laws called the Rules of Intestacy will determine who should inherit what from you.
Make a New Will when You Enter a Civil Partnership
If your existing Will was made before you had planned to enter into your Civil Partnership, and as such it wasn't made 'in contemplation' of your Civil Partnership, then you will need to make a new Will.
If you make your new Will after the registration of your Civil Partnership has happened, then this will remain valid throughout the Civil Partnership. However, the main drawback with this option is that there's likely to be a period of time before you get around to making your new Will when you don't have a legally valid Will in place. This obviously leaves you open to an element of risk.
If you want to avoid having any period of time without a valid Will in place, then you can make a new Will 'in contemplation' as soon as you and your partner have decided to enter into a Civil Partnership. You can do this before the registration of your Civil Partnership takes place, meaning that your new Will can already be in place before your old Will becomes void.
It's important to note that you cannot make a Will 'in contemplation' of Civil Partnership if you suspect that you may want to enter into a Civil Partnership sometime in the future, but you're not yet sure of the details. In order for your Will to remain valid after your Civil Partnership has been registered, it will need to specifically name your partner.
Converting Civil Partnership to Marriage
If you are converting your Civil Partnership to a same-sex marriage then this will not revoke your Will. While entering into a marriage does revoke a Will in exactly the same way as entering into a Civil Partnership, when same-sex marriage was legalised in the UK, new regulations were also brought into force that prevented existing Wills from being voided by this action.
So if you are in a Civil Partnership and you and/or your partner currently have valid Wills in place, then you will not need to replace these Wills if you convert your Civil Partnership into a marriage.
If, however, you're entering into a same-sex marriage and you are not converting this from a Civil Partnership, then this will void your Will unless it has been made 'in contemplation' of your marriage.
How Does Civil Partnership Dissolution Affect a Will?
If you and your partner dissolve your Civil Partnership, although this won't void your Will, it will have a direct impact on it. If you have named your former partner as a Beneficiary, Executor or Trustee in your Will, then ending your Civil Partnership will have an effect on these terms in your Will. After your Civil Partnership has been dissolved, your Estate will be dealt with as though your ex-partner died on the date that your Civil Partnership ended.
You may wish to update your Will in light of this, to make sure that it's still a true reflection of your wishes. You can choose to still include your ex-partner as a Beneficiary, Executor or Trustee in any Will that you make after the dissolution of the Civil Partnership has completed.