Domestic Partners by liwenting


the “community” or “separate” status of their
property or income. Couples should consult a
                                                        Registered domestic partners
                                                        receive all spousal rights and duties
                                                                                                             The Legal Rights of
tax professional or attorney with experience in         under Washington state law, but
                                                        registered domestic partnerships
this area of the law about how the IRS policy
may affect them.                                        still do NOT equal marriage. True

                                                        equality requires marriage equality.
When might a couple be advised NOT to
register as domestic partners?                          Get involved and help end anti-gay
► If either may wish to adopt from a state or           discrimination in marriage!
    country that does not approve adoptions by
    lesbians, gay men or same-sex couples;
► If either is in the U.S. military, until repeal
                                                     This brochure is brought to you by the following
                                                     advocacy groups who applaud the legislators whose
    of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy is
    certified and implemented;                       dedicated efforts created these expanded protections.
► If either depends on public assistance;            For more information or for help finding a lawyer,
► If either is a foreign national without            contact one of the legal organizations below.
    permanent legal status in the U.S.;
► If either or both do not want the state law
    rights and mutual responsibilities the law
    now provides registered domestic partners;
    or feel concerned about the open questions                  Toll free: (866) 542-8336
    regarding how state law will interact with           Email:
    federal discrimination against same-sex            

Do couples get these new rights if                                            Phone: (206) 624-2184
they are registered with their city or                              
employer, or have a status from outside
Couples who have registered only with a city,
                                                                         Phone: (206) 682-9552
county or an employer will not be protected
unless they register again with the state. Couples
who have a substantially equivalent legal status
                                                                                  in Washington
from another state or country, such as a civil
union, a California or Oregon registered                                                                          State
domestic partnership, or (starting on July 22,                         
2011) a marriage from a state or country that                                                                      June 2011
recognizes marriages of same-sex couples, will
be recognized as registered domestic partners
under Washington law. When in doubt, if                            Phone: (206) 324-2570
you want the new protections, register with              
Washington state.
 Please note: This brochure provides general          such as some public employee survivor and          ► For State employees, partner health benefits;
information, not legal advice. Registering as         pension benefits, are delayed until 2014.            and
domestic partners is a major step because the law                                                        ► Pension and survivor benefits for public
provides all spousal rights and responsibilities      Family Law Rights and Responsibilities               employees, fully available by 2014.
under Washington state law to those who               ► Dissolution of the domestic partnership in
register. Yet, registered domestic partners may          family court;                                   Other Rights and Responsibilities
still need wills, powers of attorney, second-parent   ► Community property;                              ► Some workplace benefits, including
adoptions, and other legal documents to protect       ► Joint responsibility for debts, including           sick leave to care for ill partner, worker’s
them, especially when traveling out of state. You        family expenses and children’s education;          compensation for injured partner, and
should consult an attorney about your needs.          ► Exemption from real estate excise tax for           unemployment and disability insurance;
Long-term couples and those with significant             property transferred through dissolution or     ► Equal treatment as spouses under state
property especially should obtain legal advice           to establish community property;                   insurance laws, unless they conflict with
about possible tax consequences and how to            ► Right to adopt partner’s child without              federal law;
protect pre-registration property.                       paying for a home study;                        ► Right not to testify against domestic partner;
                                                      ► Legal presumption that both partners are         ► Spousal rights under guardianship and
Who can register as domestic partners in                 parents of children born into the domestic         power of attorney laws;
Washington state?                                        partnership - but couples with children         ► Claim to inheritance under will pre-dating
All same-sex couples and any different-sex               should still consult a lawyer about obtaining      the domestic partnership registration;
couples with at least one partner aged 62 or older       a second-parent adoption or a parentage         ► Probate procedures regarding community
can register as domestic partners if:                    judgment to protect their rights, especially       property;
► Both partners are at least 18 years old;               for interstate travel;                          ► State benefits for veterans’ partners;
► Both partners share a common residence;             ► Parenting plan and child support obligations;    ► Many other state law rights and duties too
► Neither partner is married or a state registered    ► Right to seek spousal support; and                  numerous to list here.
    domestic partner with another person;             ► Protection under domestic violence and
                                                         crime victim laws.                              What rights and responsibilities of
► Both partners are legally capable of                                                                   marriage are NOT given to registered
    consenting to the domestic partnership; and       Medical and Death-Related Rights                   domestic partners by Washington’s law?
► The partners are not close blood relatives.         ► Hospital visitation, medical decision-           ► Federal law still treats domestic partners
How do couples register?                                 making, and receipt of health information          unequally in important areas, including the
Both partners must submit a “Declaration of              about partner;                                     ability to file joint tax returns; exemption
State Registered Domestic Partnership” to the         ► Privacy and shared room in long-term care           from income tax on domestic partner
Office of the Secretary of State with the required       facility;                                          health benefits; social security survivors’ and
fee and each partner’s signature notarized on         ► Administer deceased partner’s estate;               spousal benefits; exemption from inheritance
the form. Instructions for completing and             ► In 2014, state estate tax protection;               tax; federal veterans’ spousal benefits;
submitting the Declaration can be found on            ► Recognition on partner’s death certificate,         immigration rights; and
the form, which is available from the Secretary          rights to authorize autopsy, receive autopsy    ► Automatic legal status in most other states.
of State’s office in Olympia and website (www.           report, make anatomical gifts, and control
                                                         disposition of remains;                         Can registering as domestic partners, and from county clerks’ offices.                                                       affect our federal income taxes?
                                                      ► Seek damages for partner’s wrongful death;
What rights do registered domestic                    ► Right to inherit in the absence of a will;       Yes. The IRS requires registered domestic
partners have in Washington state?                    ► Same protection spouses receive against duty     partners in Washington to split their community
Some key rights and responsibilities are listed          to repay public medical costs upon death of     income on their federal income tax returns,
below. Certain benefits for domestic partners,           partner;                                        unless the couple has an agreement affecting

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