Estate planning: What needs to be considered after transitioning
Transitioning is a difficult process for many in the transgender community. The physical and emotional toll it takes on people can be overwhelming, leading to other issues being overlooked. For example, the drafting of wills.
In an already unsettled time, disputes over estate planning are even more unwanted. Matt Parr, one of our private client associates, explains the importance of carefully considering the implications of a gender change when it comes to wills and inheritance:
There’s a fear of stigmatisation amongst the trans community, which may hold people back from broaching the topic of altering a will with their family.
However, no matter how difficult the conversation may be, it is essential that wills are updated to reflect new gender identities. If it is not done, conflicts may arise later on, causing unnecessary stress.
The Gender Recognition Act 2004
On 4 April 2005, the Gender Recognition Act came into force. Under this, a person’s new affirmed gender cannot be legally recognised until they have a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC). These are not retrospective, meaning wills drafted before 4 April 2005 will be interpreted as the beneficiary’s assigned birth gender instead of their new gender.
Obtaining a Gender Recognition Certificate is not a short process. It requires people to live as their chosen gender for two years, after which they must carry out a series of in-depth tests and be put in front of a Gender Recognition Panel. It’s best to start the estate planning process during this time to avoid extending a stressful period further.
Re-drafting your own will
For the family of those who are considering transitioning or are in the process of doing so, it may be wise to re-draft an existing will to include gender-neutral terms for beneficiaries. This allows children to benefit whether they choose to change their gender or not, removing the chance of any issues that the will-writer may have experienced themselves.
Seeking expert estate planning advice should not be avoided due to fear of judgement. Transgender people must find an adviser who puts them at ease, making the will-writing process as stress-free as possible and ensuring their assets and loved ones are protected.