The following legal options are relatively unknown but have been successfully used to help avoid contests in estate planning for same sex/non-traditional partners.
Under the Designation of Heir At Law statute, a person may appear before the Probate Judge and file a “written declaration” that, as his free and voluntary act, he designates another to stand in such relation as an heir at law in the event of death. This basically means a same-sex partner could ask the Court to declare the other same-sex partner as an “heir at law” and thus they would be treated as a child born in wedlock for purposes of inheritance.
The designation of heir at law action could also be used to safeguard in the event that a same-sex partner wrote a Will leaving their Estate to the other partner and that Will were successfully contested and thrown out. If this were the case, then the same-sex partner would inherit under the Statute of Descent and Distribution and thus stand in the place of a child.
Another legal option to try and foreclose a successful Will Contest is to petition the Probate Court to decide the validity of a Will, also known as a “Pre-Probate of Will” action. Under this law a person may ask the Court for a judgment while they are alive declaring the Will valid.
This procedure is essentially a request to the Court to find that the Will is valid during the life of the testator and in essence to help minimize the risk of a Will Contest or the chances for the success of the same.
Only use a lawyer familiar with estate planning to avoid risks. Because of the complexity of estate planning it is important to consult with an attorney who does estate planning on a regular basis.