Belfast Telegraph

'It all worked out' - male friends getting married to 'avoid inheritance tax' tie the knot

By Sasha Brady, Denise Calnan and Kathy Armstrong

Two male friends who said they were getting married to avoid paying inheritance tax tied the knot on Friday.

Father-of-three Michael O'Sullivan married his best friend Matt Murphy (85) at the Registrar's Office, Lower Grand Canal Street, Dublin.

After the wedding, the newlyweds joined a small party of friends to celebrate their day at The Gasworks Bar, Ballsbridge.

"We're just going to sit down, relax, have a drink and a bite to eat," Matt told

For their big day, the dapper duo made sure they looked the part. Michael wore a waistcoat and suit jacket from Betty Bojangles vintage store in Smithfield and Matt wore a two-piece suit which he had purchased in a local charity shop.

Michael remarked that Matt "looked very smart" in his knee-length second-hand Zara coat.

The two men have been friends for almost 30 years.

They decided that Michael will inherit Matt's home in Stoneybatter, North Dublin when he passes away.

They said there is no romantic love between them, but tied the knot to avoid paying a tax bill.

Michael explained: "I was homeless, sleeping in my car and Matt needed someone to move into his home and take care of him. He was losing his sight and needed a full-time carer. He told me that he couldn't afford to pay me but said that I could live with him and he would give me his house when he passed away as payment.

Michael explained that the friends decided not to apply for the Carer's Allowance because Matt and the house would have to be examined and Matt's a hoarder. They were worried that Michael would be deemed unfit as a carer for allowing Michael to live as a hoarder.

"I don't get paid by the carers and I look after Matt. If not, he would have been in a home by now.

"I've heard people say that I'm a gold-digger but it's not like that at all. We both got something from this arrangement. We're great friends and have been for many years. We trust each other big time."

Michael said the idea of marriage came out of the blue but quickly gathered momentum when the pair realised that it made a lot of sense financially.

"Matt said to me one day 'will you marry me', I thought it was a bit of craic at first but it's turned out to be a great idea and sure here we are now," said Michael.

He said that the big day came together for the couple without much hassle, despite the last-minute preparations.

"I called the registry office on Monday to see if there was any availability this week and they laughed at me leaving it until the last minute. I said 'can you put me on some sort of cancellation list?' and they told me that there's no such thing,' said Michael.

"But would you believe they called me the other day to let me know something had come up and they had an opening at 1pm today? Another couple had been booked in but they forgot to fill out the registration forms properly

"All the little threads came together in the end for us. It all worked out," he said.

Michael acknowledged that the friends wouldn't have been able to tie the knot today if it wasn't for the "fantastic" work Ireland's LGBTQ community put into campaigning for same-sex marriage ahead of the 2015 marriage referendum.

"You know what? The LGBTQ community fought really hard for equality, fought against discrimination and in 2015 same-sex marriage was legalised and it was a wonderful moment, a great victory.

"But they didn't just win the right to marriage for [romantic] same-sex marriages. They opened the door for everyone. It's equality for all," he said.

"And the reaction to our story has been mainly positive we're happy to say. Generally the feedback has been great from all ages, even the older ones have been open to the idea. The Church hasn't said anything. They haven't condemned us yet or said 'down with this sort of thing'," joked Michael.

The pair appeared on RTE's Claire Byrne Live last week and explained that as older people face hefty bills for carers or nursing homes, they felt that getting married is a viable option.

Michael said: "At the moment, I'm on a small pension and Matt's on a small pension.

"We found out from a friend of mine that she is paying €1,760 a week to stay in a nursing home, okay I could put Matt in a nursing home and then people would be paying their tax to look after him in the nursing home.

"I don't have much money and Matt can't pay me to look after him but we tried to find out how much it would cost for a 24-hour care, you're talking about a couple of thousand a week.

"We are saving the State money."

The pair explained that Michael first moved into Matt's house when his own home was sold.

Michael said: "It’s two stories, it’s Matt’s story and my story.

"I lost my apartment and then I was living in a house with another chap, but that house was sold. I would go and stay with Matt the odd time.

"He has lived on his own his whole life and I didn’t want to intrude on that, so I was living in my car."

Matt said he offered his friend somewhere to stay and that's when the idea of leaving Michael his home in his will formed.

He said: "I told him it’s rough and ready, but you’ll have a roof over your head.

"He knows my moods and I thought, 'when I go, I want Michael to have this for his family.'"

Matt also pointed out that many people wouldn't be comfortable with carers they don't know coming into their homes.

"They (the Government) do want old people to stay at home and have a carer coming in everyday, which isn't nice until you get to know the new people," he said.

"If you have, for example, relatives up north or other family down south then you might not want anyone coming into the house."

The friends - who first shared their story on Liveline on RTE Radio One - also stressed that while there isn't romance between them, they do have a strong brotherly-like love.

"I do love Matt, he's one of the nicest people I've ever met, I do think he's wonderful," Michael said.

Matt echoed his friend's sentiments.

"I would stand up for Michael, he's the younger brother I wish I had, I have no brothers or sisters," he said.

"I've said it for a long time - I will fight with him but I won't let anyone else say anything about him."

Speaking to today, the couple requested that if any well-wishers would like to make a donation, they can do so to the National Council of the Blind.

Irish Independent

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