Law Advisor Blog


Domestic Partnership Registration in Maryland

Danielle M. Cruttenden

For many years, residential property owned jointly between domestic partners has been exempt from Maryland’s 10% inheritance tax upon the death of one of the partners. Domestic partners have otherwise not enjoyed the other benefits given to spouses with respect to the laws of inheritance. As of October 1, 2023, due to a change in the law, couples may register as a domestic partnership and receive many of the same benefits as a spouse. In Maryland, a domestic partnership is a relationship between two individuals who “agree to be in a mutual relationship of mutual interdependence in which each individual contributes to the maintenance and support of the other individual and the relationship, even if both individuals are not required to contribute equally to the relationship.” ( MD Annotated Code, Health General Article Section 6-101(a))

Under the new law, all assets, whether inherited under a Will or through a trust, as a beneficiary or otherwise that are received as a result of the death of the domestic partner will no longer be subject to Maryland’s 10% inheritance tax. Additionally, upon the death of their partner, the surviving domestic partner will be entitled to receive a Family Allowance of $10,000. If the partner died without a Will, the surviving domestic partner will be entitled to receive the entire estate if there are no surviving descendants. If there is a surviving minor child, the estate is shared equally between the surviving domestic partner and the decedent’s children. If there are no surviving minor children, but surviving descendants who are not the children of the domestic partner, the share of the surviving domestic partner is $100,000 plus one-half of the residue of the estate. Children born to or conceived during a domestic partnership are treated as the children of both domestic partners.

Domestic partners are also given the same priority as a spouse to serve as the personal representative of their partner’s estate. One difference that remains, however, is that the right to assert an elective share, which prevents the impoverishment of the spouse, applies only to married couples.

Registration of the partnership is done by filing a Declaration of Domestic Partnership with the Register of Wills in the county in which the domestic partners are domiciled. The signed and notarized declaration shall include the full name, age, and home address of each domestic partner and affirms that each individual is at least 18 years of age, is the sole domestic partner of the other, is not married, and is in a committed relationship with the other individual. A filing fee of up to $25 may be charged by the Register and each Register is responsible for maintaining adequate records of the declarations as well as all amendments to declarations and termination statements.

A Will or a Trust that specifies how you wish to distribute your assets when you die is the best way to take care of your loved ones. For more information on how to plan your estate, contact the attorneys at McNamee Hosea.