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Notaries advise postponing cohabitation agreements

Office of a notary public in Tallinn (image is illustrative).
Office of a notary public in Tallinn (image is illustrative). Source: (Eesti Meedia/Scanpix)

The Estonian Chamber of Notaries has drawn up recommendations regarding the Cohabitation Act, which gives same-sex couples the right to legally register their relationship. The act is due to enter force on January 1, but implementing acts to the law were not passed by Parliament in time, causing legal confusion.

Tarvo Puri, the head of the chamber, said notaries can oversee the signing of cohabitation agreements, but can not enter couples into the national register. He said the current situation is like a one-way ticket as a cohabitation can only be ended by deleting records from the register, and as couples will not be entered into the register, they can not end their cohabitation agreement.

He said cohabitation agreements can only be annulled in court or by the couple marrying and immediately divorcing.

Puri said from January 1, people will be able to register more than one official partnership, adding that this may lead to threats to assets of registered couples.

“For example, if one partner takes out a loan, assets of the partner of the other person may be held accountable as one can not make entry of separate property into the property register and any assets or property registered to one person are counted as common assets,” he said.

He said couples signing a cohabitation agreement should also draw up a will as current legislation does not give the other person in the official relationship inheritance rights, unlike with marriage.

The Cohabitation Act and its implementing acts have caused great debate in Parliament and society alike. The initial act was passed in the fall of 2014 by a very small margin. The implementing acts need to pass three readings, with the bill needing the approval of at least 51 MPs at its final reading to enter force. So far, only the first reading has been completed and it was passed by 42 to 41 votes. The coalition itself is split on the implementing acts.

Editor: J.M. Laats

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