A landed family have re-written the inheritance rules of their trust to ensure that any future gay partners of heirs within the family have equal legal rights to the estate.
These changes made to inheritance rules have been reported by the Times as the first case attempting to vary pre-existing trust arrangements and recognise civil partnerships. This makes the Pemberton family the first landed gentry to change the rights over their property so as to include gay partnerships.
Now that the High Court has approved the decision civil partners and same-sex spouses will be granted the same rights to their trust, which has been in the family for three centuries.
The amendment to the family trust, which includes the grade II listed Trumpington Hall in Cambridge seen ITV drama Grantchester, was prompted by what Richard Pemberton, 46, called a ‘moral obligation’.
Talking about the Pembertons’ decision to extend the definition of spouse within the inheritance rules for their family trust Judge Hodge said: “The changes are in the interest of their immediate family and the wider Pemberton family”. He added that it was not in response to fears that an existing heir to the family estate identifying themselves as gay would be excluded from their inheritance.
Judge Hodge described the previous form of the family trust as “much in need of an overhaul” and “in the style of a 19th Century dynastic family settlement”, meaning that it did not include civil partners or spouses under same sex marriages, which became legal in 2005 and 2014 respectively.
Now gay partners of heirs to the estate have a life interest in Trumpington Hall if their spouse were to pass away.