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Same-sex Partners Should Each Write a Legal Will
News articles highlight the importance of writing a will in same-sex relationships
January 15, 2002 -- The same-sex relationship presents some unique requirements
when trying to protect a surviving partner. In December last year, the great British
actor Sir Nigel Hawthorne died at the age of 72; he had lived with his partner Trevor
Bentham for 22 years.
Sir Nigel's property is believed to be worth about £2 million. If he had died
without a Will, Trevor would probably have been left with nothing. "A lot has changed
for homosexuals, most of it for the better. But the law has not changed so much
that it protects partners," Trevor explained to the Mail on Sunday newspaper.
Sir Nigel and Trevor first decided to write Wills five years ago when it was
found that Trevor had muscular dystrophy. When Sir Nigel discovered he had a tumour
they re-wrote their Wills. Sir Nigel wanted to make sure his long-term partner could
live in their magnificent home for the rest of his life.
"He (Sir Nigel) realised we had no civil rights as a couple, not even in common
law, even though we'd lived together for so long and known each other for 32 years."
explained Trevor, who has publicly stated that nothing will tear him away from the
house they created together. But as the Mail on Sunday notes, at least he has the
choice "If a partner died many of us would not have the choice. If you met your
maker tomorrow, chances are your partner would be left high and dry."
This is not unique to the U.K. Last year, the Canadian Charter of Rights and
Freedoms was put to the test when a gay man died without a Will in Alberta. Brent
Johnson, the surviving partner went before the Alberta Court of Queen' Bench to
argue that his rights under the national charter were violated by the province's
Intestate Succession Act -- a law governing inheritance rights in cases where the
deceased did not leave a Will. The law excludes gay and lesbian couples from the
rights married couples have when a spouse dies without a Will.
The court found that the law breaches the rights guaranteed in the Charter of
Rights and Freedoms and suspended the law for nine months to give the provincial
government a chance to correct the problem by rewriting the act to include same-sex
couples. In his decision, Justice Del Perras said, "There is differential treatment,
as the claimant is denied the right to access the [Act] based on his sexual orientation,"
according to the National Post in Canada.
USLegalWills.com CEO Tim Hewson notes the particular importance of the Will
for same sex couples. "The intestate laws of succession are complex and vary from
country to country, state to state and province to province. This is why every individual
should simply create a Will to avoid messy legal disputes and the vagaries of local
intestate laws. However, same sex couples receive almost no protection by intestate
law, and it makes no sense to leave the destiny of your estate to chance. By preparing
a Will, this doubt and confusion can be avoided, and your loved ones can be protected.
What is surprising is that many people procrastinate and offer any number of poor
excuses for postponing the creation of their Will when in fact they could have piece
of mind in less than 30 minutes by creating a Will online at USLegalWills.com."
For more information about creating a Will take a look at the
MyWill™ service offered at USLegalWills.com.
If you would like more information about the MyWill™
service or about any of the other services available at USLegalWills.com, visit
(Reported in 'Mail on Sunday' January 2002 and 'Gay.com' April
(Note that you can create your Will, Power of Attorney and Living Will online at
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