Up until now, a domestic partner was treated essentially as a legal stranger in an intestate estate (one without a Will) and had only a limited exemption from inheritance taxes in the State of Maryland. On October 1st, however, Senate Bill 792 (SB 792) changed that for the better by allowing qualifying domestic partners to file paperwork to become “registered domestic partners” thereby ensuring some additional protections and benefits in the administration of estates in Maryland.
How to Register a Domestic Partnership in Maryland
The process for two individuals to register a Domestic Partnership is fairly straightforward. They just need to file a Declaration of Domestic Partnership with the Register of Wills in the county where they reside.
Where to Get the Declaration of Domestic Partnership Form
The Declaration of Domestic Partnership form is easily accessible and can be downloaded directly from the Maryland Register of Wills website.
What’s on the Form?
The form is elegantly simple. Here’s what it requires for both parties:
- an affirmation that each partner is at least 18 years old, domiciled in Maryland, sole domestic partners, not married, and are in a committed relationship.
- legal notarization
What Does Maryland’s New Domestic Partnership Law Do?
Prior to the passage of SB 792, a domestic partner had no status whatsoever in an intestate estate. The partner was essentially deemed to be a “friend” without any right to benefit from an estate unless named in the Will.
Now, the surviving partner of a registered domestic partnership is treated the same as a spouse in an intestate estate. What does that mean? Now domestic partners:
- can inherit a portion or all of the decedent’s assets
- can qualify for the family allowance previously paid out only to a surviving spouse
- has priority of appointment to serve as the Personal Representative for their partner’s estate where previously they had no priority rights to serve
There is a notable exception to the various benefits for registered domestic partners under this new law. In Maryland, if a surviving spouse is not satisfied with the share they received under their deceased spouse’s Will, they have the option to claim up to half of the net augmented estate. Despite their new recognition, registered domestic partners are not granted the same privilege to make such an election.
Inheritance Tax Exemption
There is one more perk to the new law though, and it has to do with the Maryland inheritance tax, which is a 10% tax on the receipt of an inheritance in Maryland.
This tax, historically, has had quite a few exemptions, but a domestic partnership was not one of them. Until now, domestic partners had a limited exemption from inheritance tax on a jointly owned primary residence.
With the passage of SB 792, however, the surviving partner is now fully exempt from all inheritance tax if they were in a registered partnership.
Terminating a Registered Domestic Partnership
Sometimes good things come to an end, so there is an equally elegant and simple form entitled Declaration of Termination of Domestic Partnership. Upon filing this form, the domestic partnership is terminated.
Reach Out to Our Expert Legal Team for Guidance and Support
Navigating the legal landscape of domestic partnerships can be complex, but you don’t have to do it alone. Our team of experienced attorneys at McMillan Metro Faerber is here to guide you every step of the way, ensuring that your rights and interests are protected.
To learn more about our services, don’t hesitate to contact us. You can also reach out to me directly at (240) 778-2310 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit our website devoted to this topic at partnerplanning.com