You Can’t Choose Your Parents: Why Children Raised By Same-Sex Couples Are Entitled To Inheritance Rights From Both Their Parents

Imagine a bright eleven-year-old girl, Erin, who has recently lost her mother, Jane, in a car accident. Jane was only forty-two years old and she died without a will. Normally this would entitle someone like Erin to receive proceeds from Jane’s estate. However, in this case, the court held she was left with nothing. This inequity occurs because Jane was not Erin’s biological mother; she was instead the life partner of Erin’s natural mother, Carol. Carol and Jane were in a committed relationship for twenty years, and together they made the decision to parent a child. Jane was there for Carol’s artificial insemination, throughout the pregnancy, and acted as Erin’s parent since her birth. The fact that Jane raised Erin for eleven years and maintained a close parentchild relationship with her is simply not enough for Erin to inherit from Jane’s estate. As the law stands, the only people entitled to inherit intestate from Jane are her heirs, and as the state does not recognize Erin (or Carol) as such, Erin is left to mourn her loss without any financial support. Jane’s only heirs may be cousins or other relatives with no substantial relationship or connection with Jane and yet as the law stands they are entitled to everything.

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