Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Cohabiting Siblings Denied Same Rights as Married and Same-Sex Couples

Burden_sistersTwo sisters in England (Joyce and Sybil Burden) have lived together for most of their lives.  They never married and took care of their parents and other relatives.

Since 1976, they have attempted to be recognized as cohabiting couple for tax purposes.  Their requests have always been denied.

Recently, the Burden sisters appealed to the the European Court to obtain the same tax rights as married and same-sex couples.  By a 15-2 vote, the Human Rights judges denied their claim holding that they were not unfairly discriminated against.

Because of the ruling, when the first sister dies, the surviving sister will have to sell their home to raise the money to pay the estate tax which will be due on the home.

See Sisters lose European tax battle, BBC News, April 29, 2008.

Special thanks to Joel Debris (Professor of Law, CU Davis School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.


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