DOMESTIC PARTNERSHIPS AND INHERITANCE RIGHTS
In 2009, the Wisconsin Legislature created a series of statutes which govern domestic partnerships. These statutes establish the procedure for the creation of a domestic partnership. Because of this, same sex domestic partnerships are now offered some of the protections and rights afforded to married couples. In addition to a variety of other rights and protections, same sex domestic partners gained many probate and inheritance rights.
To establish a same sex domestic partnership, five separate requirements must be met. First, each person entering into a domestic partnership must be of at least 18 years of age or older and capable of consenting to the partnership. Second, neither partner can be married or in a domestic partnership with someone else. Third, the two individuals must share a common residence, although both do not need title to it nor have it as their primary residence. Fourth, the partners cannot be second cousins or of a closer relationship. Finally they must both be of the same gender to enter into a same sex domestic partnership. After 30 days and with the proper documentation they can then file and become a domestic partnership.
Once a same sex domestic partnership is established, a surviving partner receives the benefits and protections of probate and inheritance enjoyed by married couples. They will be allowed a family allowance, access to select personal items, and assignment of the property interest in the property the domestic partners. When there is no will, the surviving partner will have rights similar to a surviving spouse. Failure to provide for a surviving same sex domestic partner in a will or similar instrument created before the partnership will still allow the surviving partner to receive an intestate share. However, should a domestic partnership be terminated, provision for a domestic partner in a will, trust, insurance contracts and other things will be revoked. Same sex domestic partners have gained many of the probate rights of married couples by the passage of this legislation.