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Transitioning? It's Important to Change Your Will

View profile for Mike Downey
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Growing numbers of people in Britain are transgender, and the legalities around the treatment of transgender people are increasingly being addressed in the legal sphere.

Transitioning is a complex undertaking, physically, emotionally, and practically, and there is much to consider. From a legal viewpoint, one thing you may not have thought about is making changes to your Will – but it should certainly be on your list of priorities.

Any major life change – whether this is the birth of a child, a marriage, a divorce, or a change of gender, should prompt you to revise your Will. This helps prevent unnecessary and upsetting delays and potential legal issues for your loved ones to deal with upon your death.

So, after going through a gender transition, you will need to update all of your legal documents, including bank account details, driving licence, property deeds and your Will so it is clear what your intentions are regarding your estate upon your death.

If your Will states that you, John Smith, want to leave your assets and property to a sibling, and if you then become Joanna Smith, you need to ensure you detail this change. Similarly, if your property is lodged with the Land Registry in the name of John then this should be changed as soon as possible after your transition. After your death, the details lodged with the Land Registry can be changed by submitting evidence to the Probate Registry, but this would cause delay and complications which are avoidable.

Around 60 percent of people pass away without having a proper Will in place at all. We recommend that you review your Will every three years, in order to keep it relevant.

Some small tweaks, like changing an executor or adding a beneficiary, will simply require that you add a codicil to your existing Will. This should be written on a separate piece of paper, not added as notes to your Will document, and it must be signed and witnessed in the same way as a Will. There is no legal limit to the number of codicils you make, but they should only be used to make very simple changes. But even if you feel a codicil will suffice, it is sensible to talk through your proposed changes with a legal professional before you go ahead with this.

The Inheritance Act 1975 is complex and if any disputes arise among beneficiaries or interested parties, the Court’s overriding interest will be in adhering to the law rather than the stated wishes of a Will maker if there is any lack of clarity in the way these wishes have been expressed.

It is vital for everyone to make a detailed Will in order to prevent any unnecessary anguish.

JCP’s Lifetime Planning team is always on hand for tailored and professional legal support and has specialist experience assisting the LGBT community.

For further advice, please contact our specialist Lifetime Planning Solicitors in:

  • Swansea: 01792 773773
  • Cardiff: 02920 22 5472
  • Carmarthen: 01267 234022
  • Caerphilly: 02920 860628
  • Cowbridge: 01446 771742
  • Haverfordwest: 01437 764723
  • Fishguard: 01348 873671