The new year brought in a new California law granting heterosexual couples legal access to domestic partnerships. In the past, only same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples over 62 had legal access to domestic partnerships, but now, thanks to SB30, heterosexual couples can choose domestic partnerships as an alternative to marriage in California. Given this new law, there are potential implications on estate planning that one should consider when updating or creating a plan.
Under this new California law, heterosexual couples in California will have all the same state-granted legal rights as same-sex domestic partners. This includes many issues that are included in estate planning, which is why it’s important to review and update your estate plan to ensure it accurately reflects your wishes. For example, this new law allows heterosexual couples in domestic partnerships the protections affording surviving partners in same-sex domestic partnerships. It also affords heterosexual couples in domestic partnership the right to own community property in California. However, since this new law is not federally recognized, there are important limitations that you should be aware of including sharing social security benefits or tax benefits. In states that have domestic partner registries, a domestic partnership confers many important rights and benefits on both partners. However, those rights and benefits are not always equal to those of married couples. One of the most important rights the law confers on married couples is the right to inherit real estate, personal property, and other assets from a deceased spouse’s estate. If you want your spouse or partner to receive specific items of personal property or to receive financial support from your estate, you can include these types of provisions in your estate plan documents. Any one of our attorneys at Velasco Law Group can work with you to create or update your estate plan.
Regardless of whether you are married or are part of a domestic partnership or civil union, the benefits of making a will or living trust cannot be overstated. Family disagreements are unfortunately very common after one passes, and without a comprehensive estate plan in place, these disagreements can frequently lead to litigation. Litigation can be a nasty and expensive undertaking. Family drama is often quick to arise during conflict. By executing a will and other estate planning documents, such as a living trust, you can ensure your spouse or partner will receive the inheritance you intend.
Under this new California law, not everyone can enter into a domestic partnership; those who cannot include: people under the age of 18 without a special court order, people who are already married or in a domestic partnership with someone else, people who are related by blood in a way that would prevent them from legally marrying, and those who are not capable of consenting to a domestic partnership.
If you have questions about whether this law affects you, your significant other, and your estate planning, contact the lawyers at Velasco Law Group today. Our experienced attorneys will work with you to ensure your estate plan is inclusive of all your wishes given the changes brought about by this new California law.
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Velasco Law Group is home of estate planning, probate, and estate litigation attorneys. Our offices are located in Long Beach, Downey, and Irvine – we invite families who need both English and Spanish speaking consultations to make your first complimentary appointment with us today.