• Catherine Utley

New attempt in parliament to help cohabiting siblings

Updated: Feb 4, 2020

14 January 2020

On 14 January, the Conservative peer, Lord Lexden, who campaigns in the House of Lords for legal and fiscal recognition for cohabiting siblings, introduced a new Private Member's Bill to ensure that the issue stays on the parliamentary agenda. The Inheritance Tax 1984 (Amendment) (Siblings) Bill would allow two adult siblings who have lived together for at least 7 years to pass their estate on, one to the other, free of inheritance tax. Such a measure, Lord Lexden says, would solve the worst injustice which cohabiting sibling partnerships face: the potential loss of the shared home when one of them dies because inheritance tax has to be paid by the survivor on the deceased's share.

Catherine Utley of Family Ties Matter, said: "Successive governments have argued that, for those who are not married, exemption from inheritance tax belongs only within civil partnerships but that it would not be appropriate to offer the legal bond of a civil partnership to cohabiting siblings or to any other partnerships where there is a close blood tie. This is obviously grossly unfair as well as irrational. Two siblings or a mother and daughter, for example, who live together long term in adulthood and are financially inter-dependent are no less in need of legal and fiscal safeguards than are those whose relationship is sexual, and neither are their arrangements any less valuable to wider society. The government must recognise this and address the injustice, either by extending civil partnerships to any two people who need the legal and financial safeguards they offer or, for a start, by extending the exemption from inheritance tax beyond sexual couples. Until this issue is addressed, not only elderly siblings, but all those who are closely related by blood and have lived in their joint homes for decades will continue to be be forced out of them on bereavement - a situation which no government should allow. We are, as always, very grateful to Lord Lexden for keeping the campaign to end the discrimination against platonic cohabitants in the public eye. "

Lord Lexden's bill can be found here