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Should Sisters Living Together Get the Same Rights as Married Couples?

Should These 80-Year-Old Sisters Be Treated Like They're Married?

Joyce and Sybil Burden are sisters in their eighties who have shared a home since birth, and just lost their appeal to the British courts to get the same inheritance tax rights as married couples or those in civil partnerships. They jointly own a £875,000 estate and have stated in their wills that the surviving sister should receive the deceased sister's share. Under the current inheritance tax law, the surviving sister would pay about 40 percent (about £50,200) on that share, while spouses and civil partners wouldn't have to pay an estate tax.

The judges that ruled against the sisters said living together couldn't be compared with marriage or a civil partnership and said,"Rather than the length or the supportive nature of the relationship, what was determinative was the existence of a public undertaking, carrying with it a body of rights and obligations of a contractual nature." The sisters feel "personally persecuted" by the judgment and are "bitterly disappointed" with the outcome. What's your opinion?


ilanac13 ilanac13 9 years
that's such a gray area. on one hand i thin kthat they shouldn't have the same rights - it's not the same thing as a married couple. they don't have to deal with other benefits/challenges of being married (i.e. taxes, insurance etc). but on the other hand - they have been living together for so long that there should be something that can be done.
skigurl skigurl 9 years
if you make a concession for this circumstance, you will have people all over the world using the case as way should they have this right...they're NOT married!
melizzle melizzle 9 years
Estate tax... such silliness...
mlen mlen 9 years
yea i'm not sure how british laws work but i wonder if they could put it in a trust some how- a lot of times trusts are formed to help eliminate some of the death tax
bellaressa bellaressa 9 years
This is amazing that they lived there for 80 years and jointly own this property; and yet if one dies the other one has to pay for a home she jointly owns to keep it.
pharm_chick pharm_chick 9 years
maybe not as much as they currently have to pay, but not free like a married couple either...?
LadyAngel89 LadyAngel89 9 years
Now I could possibly see the tax if the sister didn't jointly own the home. But they're joint owners! Why should either of them have to pay taxes on the other half of the house they already own?! But go figure, governments are going to get their money even if they have to wring it out of our flesh.
MA-cw MA-cw 9 years
They are so cute! The one on the right looks sassy. I like them. I know nothing about inheritance taxes, but I like lickety split's comment about selling the estate and filing the deed of sale right after the death so no tax is owed. I don't know how these things work, though.
rashell rashell 9 years
they are sooo cute. i love old people :)
md12398 md12398 9 years
^ what's with the spam? geez. angelica said, "if that isn't a civil union, I don't know what is," and i think that statement's right on the money.
Le-Luxe Le-Luxe 9 years
Ugh Weird.
JaimeLeah526 JaimeLeah526 9 years
They've lived together for 80 years. It's not fair that they'd have to pay an inheritance tax since they own it together. Could they put it in both of their names instead so that way they both own the whole thing and wouldn't inherit anything if the other one passes away?
lickety-split lickety-split 9 years
so right now each of them sign a paper selling their share to the other for $1. the survivor files their deed of sale the day after their sister dies destroying the other. no one inherits anything and no tax is owed.
meumitsuki meumitsuki 9 years
Every time a person passes possessions via death, they are taxed. So, most likely, the women paid a tax when their parents died (unless the parents were smart and "sold" the property to them for some minimal price, where a possibly a lesser tax would have been charged). The "death" tax is such an awful thing.
duck-duck-goose duck-duck-goose 9 years
Oh, now aren't they the cutest? I know nothing about inheritance taxes and such, so I'll ignorantly answer, "yes."
mini_pixie mini_pixie 9 years
I'm assuming they inherited this estate from their parents- did they pay taxes at that time? I wonder... If children don't pay for inheritances, then siblings shouldn't either, and vice versa, I think.
Angelica Angelica 9 years
Inheritance taxes are incredibly confusing and bizarre to me. Given they have lived together (in the same house) since birth I think they should have the same rights as a married couple. I mean, if that isn't a civil union, I don't know what is.
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