Same Sex Couples, Inheritance and the Need to Dissolve a Domestic Partnership

Did You Know? If you entered into a registered same sex Domestic Partnership in Oregon you have the same rights of inheritance to obtain your partner’s estate as a married person does. Oregon’s Domestic Partnership law gives registered DP’s the same rights as a married person under any applicable state laws.  The problem is that this can lead to unexpected results.  It is very important for same sex couples to LEGALLY DISSOLVE their Registered Domestic Partnership if they split up.  For example, if you don’t dissolve your RDP and you do not have a valid updated will, your “ex-partner” may be able to inherit all of your property as a surviving spouse.  Even if you do have a valid will naming someone else as your designated heir.  your “ex-partner” might be able inherit a portion of your property against the wishes specified in you Will.   

In April and May 2007, the Oregon state legislature passed legislation to make virtually all of the rights afforded to married couples available to same-sex couples. The new status is referred to in Oregon law as a domestic partnership, avoiding the use of the terms marriage or civil union. The law went into effect February 1, 2008. Oregon’s legislation has no ceremony requirement. In Oregon couples are only required to register their domestic partnerships through the submission of a paper form.

Because of this simplified process, many Gay and Lesbian couples became legally recognized by registering without thinking about the full extent of the consequences of this registration.   And, more importantly, many registered couples do not understand the importance of getting the registration dissolved if and when they split up.  The inheritance issue is just one of many that Gay and Lesbian couples could inadvertently end up with results against their wishes or desires.

Posted in Estate Planning, Inheritance, LGBT Legal Rights, Probate, Same Sex Relationships, Separation Agreements Tagged with: , ,

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