New Haven Probate Process For Same-Sex Spouses

Connecticut was one of the first three states in the United States to recognize the constitutional right of same-sex couples to marry. In 2008, it joined Massachusetts and California as the only states to have legalized gay marriage. The state Supreme Court ruling also went above and beyond sanctioning same-sex marriage by ruling that civil union statutes violated the equal protection clause of the state constitution.

Following the 2008 ruling in Connecticut, in 2015 the U.S. Supreme Court of the United States issued its landmark ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, which recognized gay marriage as a constitutional right in all 50 states. This makes the New Haven probate process for same-sex spouses very similar to any other couple. For more information contact a well-versed probate lawyer.

New Haven Treats Same-Sex Spouses Equal Under Law

In light of the 2008 state court ruling and the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, same-sex spouses are treated equally under both state and federal law. As a result, the New Haven probate process for same-sex spouses will be the same as the process for heterosexual spouses. The laws of intestacy and all other statutory rights will apply.

What is the Probate Process?

Probate is a very common legal process that occurs when the deceased’s assets need to be formally distributed to their beneficiaries or legal heirs. Put simply, the probate process is essentially a judge giving legal permission to transfer the deceased’s assets, regardless of whether or not there is a will.

Title 45a of the Connecticut Code governs the rules and procedures for probate. As stated above, whether or not the deceased has an executed will has no impact on whether the probate process is triggered. Instead, it is all about the type of assets and value of the deceased.

In New Haven, probate is only required under two circumstances:

  1. If the deceased individually owned property that exceeds $40,000 in value and did not name a beneficiary; or
  2. If the deceased individually owned “real property”—typically in the form of land or fixed buildings—of any value

If neither of the two situations above applies, the surviving same-sex spouse will not need to go through the probate process.

How Will a Court Divide the Deceased’s Assets During Probate?

Regardless if spouses are the same sex or not, it is always advised that any married couple create a will. If there is a valid will, the court will transfer the assets according to the deceased’s wishes contained in the will.

However, when a person “dies intestate,” it just means they died without a will. If there is no will, Connecticut’s laws of intestacy will determine how the deceased’s assets are divided. If the deceased is survived by their spouse, regardless of sex, the surviving spouse generally gets at least half of the deceased’s assets, depending on if they had children together.

Children of same-sex couples have equal rights to children of opposite-sex couples. However, there are certain precautions same-sex couples need to take into account to ensure that those rights are fully realized. For instance, if a child is biologically related to only one spouse, and the other non-biological spouse never legally adopts the child and subsequently passes away, that child may not have any legal right to the deceased’s inheritance under the laws of intestacy.

Ask A New Haven Lawyer About the Probate Process for Same-Sex Spouses

Same-sex spouses have the same rights as opposite-sex spouses under Connecticut law. However, the New Haven probate process for same-sex spouses can still be complex, especially when children are involved. Contact a New Haven probate attorney today to learn more about same-sex probate process.