Tag: same-sex marriage

20 Jun

Polygamy and Estate Planning

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Estate planning and litigation professionals are still mulling over how the legalization of same-sex marriage will affect their practices. Even more complex developments may be in the offing. 

An allegedly polygamist community in British Columbia and increased concerns about the possibility of polygamy elsewhere in all but name in other regions of the country raise any number of issues, not only of policy, but also estate planning.

For example, if someone dies leaving multiple spouses but only one legally-married spouse, what advantages would the legally-married spouse have over the others in the division of a contested estate?

How will the fact that bigamy and polygamy remain illegal play out in civil estate disputes?

If proscriptions on polygamy are or become ignored by governments, will the law evolve? And as it did in the case of same-sex marriage, what happens if bigamy or polygamy becomes legal, since families may become large enough that dependant’s support claims could exhaust most estates rendering much estate planning redundant?

Stay tuned and thanks for reading.

Sean Graham

12 Jun

Same-Sex Marriages and their Impact on Estate Law and Administration – Hull on Estates #114

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Listen to Same-Sex Marriages and their Impact on Estate Law and Administration.

This week on Hull and Estates, Rick Bickhram and David Smith discuss how changes in the definition of marriage have impacted Estate Law and Estate Administration.

Comments? Send us an email at hull.lawyers@gmail.com, call us on the comment line at 206-350-6636, or leave us a comment on the Hull on Estates blog.

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02 Mar

Fact is Stranger than Fiction? Legally Adopting your Wife in Maine

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A rather unique estate battle is unfolding in Maine and Connecticut as reported on February 26, 2007 by the Associated Press.

Olive Watson took the unusual step of legally adopting her same sex partner, Patricia Spado, some fifteen years ago as a means of ensuring for Spado’s financial security and presumably to guarantee the provisions of Watson’s last will (which entirely benefited Spado) against any challenge by her siblings.

Remarkably, the adoption was apparently legal in Maine notwithstanding that Spado was a year older than Watson and the two shared a conjugal relationship. Watson and Spado subsequently amicably ended their relationship in 1992 after fourteen years.

It gets even more interesting: Watson’s father was none other than the founder of the predecessor of IBM who, on his death in 1993, left a multimillion dollar trust fund for the benefit of his eighteen “grandchildren” unaware that his daughter had legally adopted Spado. A Judge in Connecticut has found that Spado cannot share in the trust (Grandfather Watson not having been aware of the adoption when he settled the trust) and Spado has appealed. The Trustees of the trust fund have apparently also commenced proceedings in Maine to seek to annul the adoption although that prospect appears unlikely as it requires proof of deception or fraud.

To my mind, the surprising element of this story is that Spado would even assert an entitlement as a “grandchild” when the purpose of the adoption was clearly to provide certainty of her entitlement to Olive Watson’s estate. It would be interesting to examine the legal requirements of adoption in Maine in more detail. Presumably the state legislature will pause to consider amendments in the glare of the spotlight of the American media….

Have a great weekend,

David

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