From 30 June 2021, civil partnerships have been available to all couples in Scotland. This marks a crucial step forward in reaching parity between couples of all gender identities and sexual orientations. Further, for the first time, civil partnerships between couples of different genders formed outside of the UK will be recognised in Scotland.
This brings Scotland in line with England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The decision to reform this area of law followed a 2018 UK Supreme Court ruling. The ruling declared that the UK Civil Partnership Act 2004 was against the European Convention on Human Rights because it prevented mixed sex couples from entering into civil partnerships.
There remain some legal distinctions between civil partnerships and marriage. For example, a marriage is formed by the exchange of vows and a civil partnership is formed by the signing of a document. However, for succession planning and Inheritance Tax purposes, they are essentially the same. This is in contrast to the position for couples who simply cohabit. This will be discussed in more detail in our subsequent blog explaining the differences in succession for couples who are married, in civil partnerships and cohabiting.
This change to the law governing civil partnerships in Scotland offers mixed-sex and non-binary couples with the opportunity to formalise their relationship outside of the confines of marriage, and to reap the financial and legal protections under civil partnership, previously limited to same-sex couples.
Entering into a civil partnership is a significant life event, and as such it is important that you take time to review your Will, Power of Attorney and Inheritance Tax planning in light of this. In doing so you can ensure that your succession plan reflects your new relationship status and is in line with your current wishes.
Fraser Scott is an Associate within our Asset Protection Group and specialises in succession and estate planning. If you would like to discuss any of the issues covered in this article, or if you require assistance with any other matter, please complete our contact form or call us on 0131 225 1200.
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