If you don’t change a will after domestic partnership

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Q. If a will is not changed after the domestic partnership is made, are certain benefits lost?
— Planning

A. The New Jersey Domestic Partnership Act became effective in 2004, and it was amended effective February 2007.

Under the original act, same-sex couples age 18 or older and opposite-sex couples age 62 or older were eligible to register a domestic partnership if they met the act’s requirements, said Shirley Whitenack, an estate planning attorney with Schenck, Price, Smith & King in Florham Park.

She said the amended act requires same-sex or opposite-sex couples to be age 62 or older and meet the remaining eligibility requirements of the act to register a domestic partnership.

Domestic partnerships registered before Feb. 19, 2007 are still valid and are afforded the benefits of domestic partnerships.

“Domestic partners have the right to make medical decisions on behalf of the other partner, the right to make funeral arrangements for the other partner and enjoy New Jersey state tax benefits including the right to claim the other partner as a dependent on New Jersey tax returns,” Whitenack said. “However, domestic partners cannot claim the partner as a dependent on federal tax returns.”

To your question: If a domestic partner dies without a will, the surviving partner has the same inheritance rights as a spouse, Whitenack said.

But there are plenty of other reasons everyone should have a will and other estate planning documents. You can read more about that here.

Email your questions to moc.p1558516785leHye1558516785noMJN1558516785@ksA1558516785.

This story was originally published on April 18, 2019.

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