Illinois And Civil Unions
Effective June 1, 2011, pursuant to P.A. 96-1513, Illinois will join several other states that permit registration of a civil union between two consenting adults of the same gender. The law specifically states that a party to a civil union shall be included in any definition of the term “spouse”, “family”, “immediate family”, “dependent” and the like that denote a spousal relationship. In addition, Illinois will recognize as civil unions similar relationships entered in other jurisdictions (other than common law marriage). For example, some states recognize “same sex” marriage” or “domestic partnerships.”
From an estate planning perspective, partners in a civil union will receive the same protection as a spouse under the Illinois Probate Act, meaning that a partner will have priority to act as in matters related to intestate death administrations, the same rights as a surviving spouse to inherit intestate property and to claim against the will.
Tax issues will remain in flux. The Illinois Civil Union Act stands in contrast to the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act. For the time being, there will be continuing issues in connection with the different tax treatment afforded spouses at the federal level than will be available to partners in a civil union registered under Illinois law.