Do Unmarried Same Sex Couples Get Inheritance When Partner Dies?

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Mon, May 7, 2012 at 8:08 AM
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You're in a committed, same-sex relationship, but you can't get married in California. And suddenly your partner, who intended to write you into his will, dies. Then his sister steps in, and you get nothing.

That actually happened, according to an L.A.-based legal claim made by Brent Beckwith, who survived the death of his partner of nearly 10 years. The National Center for Lesbian Rights, which supported Beckwith's legal case, claimed victory over the weekend.

A California appeals court declared that ...

... Beckwith could in fact have a claim to at least some of that inheritance. The court stated he could go back to a lower court and press his civil claim against the sister, Susan Dahl.

The man's case claimed, according to the NCLR, that ...

... while in the hospital, his partner had asked him to print a will that he had previously written on his computer and bring it to him to sign, but that Dahl had interfered with that plan, promising to contact a lawyer to set up a trust instead. Beckwith alleged that Dahl did not follow through on her offer to arrange a trust, and shortly thereafter his partner died without leaving either a will or a trust.

One of Beckwith's big problems was that he and his man were not registered domestic partners. That caused the L.A. Superior Court to deny his claim. An Orange County Superior Court judge passed as well.

But the appeals court stated that "for every wrong there is a remedy" and told Beckwith to move forward with his civil suit against the sister.

NCLR attorney Christopher F. Stoll:

Committed couples deserve legal protections, whether or not they are married or in a registered domestic partnership. Unfortunately, many same-sex couples have family members who are hostile to their relationships, or become hostile to the surviving partner after one of them dies.

[@dennisjromero / djromero@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]

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