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More couples to benefit from bereavement payments

Opposite-sex couples will be allowed to form civil partnerships

More couples will be able to benefit from bereavement payments when the government introduces new laws enabling opposite-sex couples to form civil partnerships.

The government, which intends to change the law by 31 December 2019, has published plans for extending eligibility and the range of rights and entitlements that should be made available to opposite-sex civil partners.

Official figures show marriage rates remain at historical lows. In 1941 there were 471,000 marriages in the year compared to 243,000 in 2016 – a drop of nearly 50%.

Rachael Griffin, tax and financial planning expert at Quilter, said the consultation offers three million cohabiting couples the ability to gain the taxes and financial rights that were previously solely for those who opted for marriage.

For example, for those whose partners die today the combination of the bereavement support payment and widowed parent’s allowance is worth up to £11,608.20 for the first 18 months.

“This is a substantial sum of money for people who are struggling to cope with a life changing event and trying to get back on their feet. It is only right that is available to all,” said Griffin.

Cohabiting couples will also benefit from inheritance tax laws, which enable estates to be passed on tax-free to the surviving partner in a couple.