Family amend trust to give rights to partners of gay descendants
A landed family have amended a trust to ensure that if any of their descendants are gay, their partners will have the same rights as heterosexual spouses.
The Pembertons have lived at Trumpington Hall in Cambridgeshire for three centuries. The hall has often been used for as a location for films and TV programmes such as Grantchester.
The family’s inheritance arrangements are governed by a longstanding trust dating back more than 200 years.
Richard Pemberton and his wife Helen have three children aged between 14 and 10. They told the High Court that they had considered the "financial, ethical and moral issues which can arise with settlements relating to substantial family wealth" and felt they “had a moral obligation” to update the trust.
The main change was to approve the "extension of the definition of spouse" in regard to inheritance rights to include "any civil partner or spouse in a same sex marriage".
They said that although no current members of the family are likely to be affected, they believed changes were necessary to protect future generations.
Approving the amendments, Judge Hodge said in its current form the family trust was "much in the style of a 19th century dynastic family settlement" in that it "does not include civil partners or spouses under same sex marriages”.
"The trust is in need of a much needed overhaul. The proposed variation will be for the benefit of the family as a whole and therefore of benefit to each individual member."
It’s thought to be the first time a family trust has been amended to provide for the rights of gay people and their spouses.
Please contact Nigel Gibson-Birch or Josie Birnie if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of wills, trusts and probate.