YOUR RIGHT AS A DOMESTIC PARTNER IN CALIFORNIA PROBATE ESTATES AND TRUSTS
In order for a California Domestic Partner to have rights in the probate estate and trust of his or her partner, certain requirements have to be met.
First, we have to determine if a Domestic Partner status is available. California defines Domestic Partners as those who have filed one of the following forms and official documents with the Secretary of State in California:
- Declaration of Domestic Partnership (Form NP/SF DP-1)
- Confidential Declaration of Domestic Partnership (Form NP/SF DP-1A)
A Domestic Partner Registry has been set up by the State of California for this purpose, which you can reach here: http://www.sos.ca.gov/registries/domestic-partners-registry/. California Domestic Partnership Forms and Fees can be found here: http://www.sos.ca.gov/registries/domestic-partners-registry/forms-fees/#forms
A Domestic Partnership is therefore created by a positive act. :“Domestic partner” means one of two persons who have filed a Declaration of Domestic Partnership with the Secretary of State pursuant to Division 2.5 (commencing with Section 297 of the Family Code, provided that the domestic partnership has not been terminated pursuant to Section 229 of the Family Code. So, if the Domestic Partnership was terminated before death, the surviving domestic partner does not have any rights under intestacy rules.
If the Domestic Partnership has been terminated by death, however, and Notice of Termination was not filed by either party prior to the date of death of the decedent, the domestic partner who survives the deceased is a surviving domestic partner, and shall be entitled to the rights of a surviving domestic partner as provided in this code.
If there is a registered domestic partner relationship, then the domestic partner can stand to inherit assets under a trust, or the will, if he or she is unintentionally omitted, and definitely in intestacy, if no will exists.
Unfortunately, siblings and parents of the domestic partner may not get along with the domestic partner and several things can happen. People who enter the domestic partners’ home my remove estate planning documents, will and other related documents. We have heard that during the disputes, others hid the estate documents to prevent the domestic partner from inheriting. This is why it is even more important for domestic partners to have an estate planning attorney, and to designate a safe keeping procedure for the estate planning documents of the domestic partners.
Need help protecting the domestic partner from family members? Call Mina Sirkin, Trust attorney in Los Angeles County, California for help with Domestic Partnership probate, trusts and estate matters: 818.340.4479.