Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Wisconsin Same-sex Couples Will Be Able to Inherit

Legislation signed by Gov. Doyle earlier this week will grant State recognition to domestic partnerships. Reported in the Capital Times, the legislation is described as follows:

Along with the recognition come dozens of legal protections that previously were only granted to married couples, including the right to take family leave to care for a sick or dying partner, the ability to access a partner's medical records and the right to inherit a partner's property.
I'd like to clarify the article's language; under the current law a partner could inherit, but to do so the other person needed to have completed a will. Without a will, the property would have passed according to state statute, which would go to children, if none, parents, etc. The current statutory distribution did not recognize domestic now will under the new legislation.

Since Wisconsin has constitutional language barring same-sex marriage, some have questioned the legal validity of the new law. However, the article reports:

the Wisconsin Legislative Council, foreseeing a potential legal battle, issued an opinion on May 6 that said the constitutional amendment did not preclude the legality of domestic partnerships. The opinion stated, in part, that "it is reasonable to conclude that the domestic partnerships proposed … do not confer a legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals."
The new law goes into effect August 1, 2009.

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