New Rights for Domestic Partners in Maryland

Pursuant to Maryland Senate Bill 792 which takes effect October 1st , Maryland will be one of a few states that recognizes domestic partnerships as a distinct status for couples who wish to share their lives with each other without the ties of a civil union or marriage. Until now, the relationship status has been less formal, based on the facts and circumstances for the couple involved as they apply for benefits that affect their daily lives. However, except as it relates to a shared residence, the inheritance rights for these couples did not reflect this status, and when one member of the domestic partnership died, the other was treated for most intents and purposes as if they were unrelated to their partner.

If you have entered into a domestic partnership and have questions about whether you would qualify under the new law, please call us to determine if registering your domestic partnership is right for your situation.

The new law applies to both opposite-sex and same-sex couples who register as domestic partners by filing a Declaration of Domestic Partnership with the Register of Wills in their county of residence. Once registered, their domestic partnership will be recognized in all Maryland counties.

The new law creates rights for registered domestic partners under Maryland’s Laws as follows:

  • A surviving domestic partner will be entitled to an intestate share of their deceased partner’s estate equal to that of a surviving spouse.
  • A surviving domestic partner will receive a family allowance equal to that of a surviving spouse.
  • A surviving domestic partner will have priority of appointment as Personal Representative (executor) of their partner’s estate.
  • A child born or conceived during a domestic partnership will be considered the child of both domestic partners.
  • A surviving domestic partner will no longer be subject to Maryland Inheritance tax.


The law also allows domestic partners to terminate the registration of their partnership by filing a Declaration of Termination. The Declaration of Termination must:

  1. Be signed by both partners; or
  2. Be signed by one partner but served to the non-signing partner; or
  3. If a domestic partner has been abandoned by the other domestic partner, the abandoned domestic partner can file a Declaration of Termination six (6) months after abandonment. (There must not have been any contact between the domestic partners for at least six (6) months to claim abandonment).


The attorneys at Sessa & Dorsey can advise you on the advantages and disadvantages of filing for Declaration of Domestic Partnership. To learn more or to schedule a consultation with our team of estates and trusts attorneys, get in touch with our offices today.


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