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Abolished law allowing men but not women to pass property to family by default still commonly used

By z4027672030, May 28 2015 03:17PM

An archaic law, labelled sexist by some experts and professionals, which allows men to pass down property to their family if there is no will in place, but not women, is still being commonly used, according to a Cambridge University law expert, despite the law having been abolished.




Parliament voted to abolish the law, known as the Presumption of Advancement (PoA), in 2010, as part of the then-Labour government’s commitment to European equal rights laws. The abolishment can be found in the Equality Act 2010, though has not been brought into force and thus the old law is still being invoked in courts.


The challenged law assumes that men, but not women, intend to give property to a family in the case of no will; when a man dies, the ownership of his property goes to a spouse or child, with the legal precedent having considered this as part of a man’s ‘paternalistic duty’. When a woman dies, however, the law resorts to the ‘presumption of resulting trust’, where the spouse or child is not given full ownership in equity, instead deemed as merely holding property for the female owner.


Alysia Blackham, of Cambridge University’s Faculty of Law, has deemed the law as a ‘legal hangover from a different age’, putting its lack of enforcement by the government down to fear of frightening Conservative Eurosceptics.


Since Parliament voted to abolish the law in 2010, the PoA rules has been used in 21 cases to argue property and inheritance, often ironically invoked for the benefit of the women involved in the cases. In order to make the law more equal and less discriminatory for both women and men, Ms Blackham is advocating for equality regarding the PoA rule, either abolishing it altogether or applying it to both men and women, as Australia have.


For peace of mind as to what happens to your estate after your death, our Devon wills and probate solicitors are here to help and advise on any legal matters relating to the administration of estate.




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