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Gay widower's claim to estate affirmed

As the Defense of Marriage Act has been struck down by the Supreme Court, an increasing number of Florida estate plans are likely to feature provisions for same-sex spouses. This situation is positive for those who create the estate plans, but their families may not be nearly as supportive. In one shocking example, the brothers of a gay New York man who left his partner as the executor of his will have again been denied their claim by a state probate court.

The brothers were attempting to challenge the will of their relative, who died from an unexpected heart attack in November 2008. The man had been diagnosed with terminal cancer just months before his death. As a result, the man and his partner decided to get married in Canada. Gay marriage is still not formally permitted in New York, and the state waited until 2011 to begin recognizing same-sex unions from other jurisdictions.

The 65-year-old man had left smaller bequests to his relatives, but the bulk of his estate went to his long-time partner. When the partner sought assistance through the probate courts, one of the decedent's brothers fought the move, arguing that the same-sex marriage violated New York policy and thus nullified many of the provisions in the will.

Additional conflict arose when the man's official domicile was challenged. He held property in Florida and had used residency there to improve his tax status, according to attorneys in the case. In the end, though, the man's partner was affirmed as the rightful executor of his will, even though some questions still remain about his residency status.

In this situation, a same-sex couple was able to assert and receive the rights that all married couples should naturally enjoy. A properly structured will can help you distribute your property and assets according to your wishes, even if your marriage is not yet recognized throughout the nation. To find out more about including your same-sex partner in your will, consult a qualified probate attorney.

Source:  www.courthousenews.com, "In-laws can't block gay widower's inheritance" Jeff D. Gorman, Jul. 10, 2013