The Relationships Register Act 2016 came into effect on 1 August 2017. We discuss the purpose and effects of the Act in the article.
Why would I want to register my relationship?
The purpose of the Relationships Register is to provide legal recognition for adults in a relationship as a couple (other than marriage), irrespective of their sex or gender identity. For example, a same sex couple.
To be eligible to register a relationship, both parties must be adults over 18 years of age, one must reside in South Australia and both must not be in a relationship with another party or be related by family.
How does this effect my Will?
Entering into a registered relationship revokes a Will. However, a Will can be prepared to include words that can overcome this automatic revocation. The ending of a registered relationship will have the same effect on the Will as a divorce. It will affect those parts of the Will appointing your partner as executor and naming them as a beneficiary but will not effect the remaining parts of your Will.
How does this effect my superannuation, estate planning and disputes over deceased estate?
It will now be easier for your partner to prove a shared life and dependency for a claim to your super, if your relationship is registered.
If you die intestate, that is without a Will, your partner can claim whole or part of the estate (subject to some exceptions) without the need to provide evidence to the Court of your relationship.
If you leave a Will and your registered relationship was not revoked prior to your death, your partner can make a claim against your estate regardless of the length of the relationship.
Other things to consider
The Act also affects other areas of the law including surrogacy, parentage, superannuation and migration all of which can have an impact on your rights and interests.
If you intend to register your relationship you must consider how the change in law will affect you and we would recommend engaging a lawyer to advise you. The only way to ensure your wishes are carried out in the eveny of your death is by having an up-to-date Will.
Adele and Jasmine have been in a same-sex relationship for many years. They decided to register their relationship under the new legislation.
Adele’s Will prior to registration stated that her children must inherit her whole estate upon her death. She wishes for this to remain unchanged after the registration but does not update her Will prior to her death.
Upon registration of the relationship Adele’s Will is revoked and Jasmine has a claim to Adele’s estate. This means that Adele’s Children might not receive the full proceeds of her estate as Jasmine would be entitled to claim a share of the estate.
Adele and Jasmine update their Wills after registration so that each inherits the whole estate of the other upon death. However, they decide to end their relationship after a few months of being registered. They do not apply to officially revoke the registration of their relationship and Adele dies two years later.
According to the new legislation, as their relationship was not formally revoked their Wills are still valid. This gives Jasmine a valid claim to Adele’s estate.
For further information or assistance on registering a relationship please contact us on (08) 8664 1162 or firstname.lastname@example.org
This article was written by Melanie Rego.