What Could Happen if Your Domestic Partner Does Not Prepare a Will

If your domestic partner passes away before they had a chance to write a will, the outcome may vary. This is if they did not address what they wanted to happen to their estate and property. The results would fall under the law that your partnership was created upon. Different situations includes:

Domestic Partnership Laws

Being in a domestic partnership means that two people were granted the status by either municipal or state law. You will need to follow the requirements under that law in order to create a domestic partnership. Each state contains different laws created to authorize domestic partnerships.

Same-sex couples register in civil unions or partnerships as an alternative to marriage. These laws may vary only in how two people may become authorized. This depends if there exists a registered or unregistered civil union into the domestic partnership registry, and what benefits apply. However, in places that authorizes same-sex marriage, the law applies to same-sex couples as well.

Authorization by Municipal Law

Domestic partnerships created under city or county law will typically contain limited benefits. This applies for their partner's employee benefits, their health care, and decisions for their partner's body. Inheritance is a matter of state law. A city or county does not own the authority to make decisions dealing with inheritance and will not provide any domestic partner with inheritance. In this situation, the deceased's property will go to their heirs under state law.

Authorization by State Law

A partnership created under state law can include inheritance rights, as long as the state law says it can. If you registered your domestic partnership in a state that allows a spouse to accept an inheritance, there is a chance you get entitled to a third to the entirety of your partner's estate. This will depend on the involvement of children. If you and your spouse had land together, the rights of that property would pass onto your name.

Let Us Help

By creating a will, you can make specific wishes that might allow inheritance to your domestic partner. The lack of a will means that the law will need to come into play and will make these important decisions for you. If you want to avoid any intervenience, write your will as soon as you can.  Many domestic partners find the law's way of taking care of the lack of a will unfair and worry it may cause tension between family members and a spouse, so to avoid that, go ahead and write your will now.

Whether diagnosed with a life-threatening disease or just want safety and make sure that your wishes are signed and recorded on paper, you will want to settle your estates and make inheritance decisions before your death. It's quick and easy and may save your spouse in the case of an unexpected death. It's always better to be safe than sorry.


1. Eugene F. Scoles, Problems and Materials on Decedents' Estates and Trusts (2000), p. 39.

2. "A Brief History of Domestic Partnerships" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-11-16. Retrieved 2010-07-01.

3. "Ritter signs bill that will help gay couples". The Denver Post. Associated Press. 2009-04-09. Retrieved 2009-04-10.

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