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  6. How should I refer to a transgender beneficiary in a will?

How should I refer to a transgender beneficiary in a will?

I am drafting a will for a client. One of the intended beneficiaries is his grandchild. I am informed that the grandchild has undergone a gender reassignment. How should I refer to this beneficiary in the will?

The Gender Recognition Act 2004 ('the Act') applies if a beneficiary has changed gender.

The Act came into force on 4 April 2005 and accordingly a gift in a will dated after this date will take effect in accordance with the new gender. As a result of the Act, the person's new gender is recognised for all purposes once they have been issued with a Gender Recognition Certificate.

For example, if a will is made after the Act came into force and it refers to the eldest son, and a person who was previously a daughter becomes the eldest son, following recognition in the acquired gender, that person will inherit as the 'eldest son'.

The person drafting the will should be careful not to exclude or include beneficiaries against the testator's will when a will contains unspecified class gifts to beneficiaries to whom the will refers only by gender.

It may be advisable to avoid gender-specific references wherever possible and refer to people by their names rather than as a class of a specific sex or to provide that gifts depending on gender are to be construed as at the date the will is signed.

For further information please see the Probate Practitioner's Handbook (8th edition), which is available to purchase from the Law Society's online bookshop.

Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information in this article, it does not constitute legal advice and cannot be relied upon as such. The Law Society does not accept any responsibility for liabilities arising as a result of reliance upon the information given.

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