At social functions I sometimes find myself being asked for answers to people’s legal questions; depending on how I’m feeling (I’ve had a good day, the company is good and the wine is reasonable) I sometimes answer, for information purposes only; it does not constitute legal advice.
When answering such a query there is an unspoken understanding that I accept no liability for anyone who asks for and then uses this general legal information.
So the other night I was asked what happens if you died without a will and you’re in a same sex relationship, would your partner be eligible to inherit?
As regular readers know an intestate estate is divided according to a formula set out by State law.
In most jurisdictions this covers same-sex partnerships; and may include multiple partners.
In most states and territories a de facto relationship exists where two persons who are not legally married and are not related by family have a relationship as a couple living together on a genuine domestic basis.
For a number of years de facto, same-sex couples and partners in affairs have had the same rights as married couples in terms of maintenance and division of assets.
A heterosexual couple who live together for two years — or who have a baby while living together — are considered to be “domestic partners” and the same legal obligations as married couples apply.
In NSW a person “in a close personal relationship” with the deceased is eligible to apply for family provision.
Similarly registration of a relationship by domestic partners in Victoria, affects the legal treatment of the relationship in the context of intestacy, and superannuation benefits. Whereas estate law is state-based, family law is governed by the federal government .
Importantly intestacy laws only apply when you die without a valid Will. So if you’re worried about who will get your estate there is a pretty easy way to alleviate your concerns make or update your will!
So how about this (and I realize it sounds like something I have said before; because I have) – go out and make a proper Will.