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Synopsis (Summary) of the
Rights and Benefits Available to
Same-Gender Couples in the State of Hawai>i
as "reciprocal beneficiaries"

Introduction

    In 1995 in Hawai>i, for the first time in the world, a legislative or parliamentary commission, after careful study of the matter, recommended that full governmental marriage rights be made available to same-gender couples. That commission had been established by the Hawai>i Legislature, and while that Legislature did not act on full rights, it did pass a remarkable law in 1997 which extended a great number of rights and benefits to same-gender couples. The couples are called Areciprocal beneficiaries@ and the 1997 law is known informally as the Reciprocal Beneficiary Act. Additional laws granting further rights and benefits were then passed in 1999, and it appears that more will be added as time goes on.

    The 1995 commission had categorized governmental marriage rights into three groups:

    This summary includes all rights and benefits extended to same-gender couples by the laws of the State of Hawai>i. It is up to date as of the start of 2000. The rights and benefits are broken down in the general order that the 1995 commission used.

    While this summary provides brief explanations and concise synopses of the various laws, a full copy of all those laws is also available by clicking here.

    In this summary the term Apublic workers@ usually means workers of both the State and the four counties (City & County of Honolulu, Hawai>i-Big Island, Kaua>i, and Maui).

    The 1997 package of laws provided substantially similar government rights, in the areas covered by those laws, to same-gender couples. In those areas of the law which are listed here, therefore, the rights are the same for couples and spouses, whether same-gender or different-gender, as long as their relationships are certified by the government with a marriage or a reciprocal-beneficiary certificate. Equal rights extend to their families (for the first time, these laws have had the effect of legally recognizing same-gender couple=s families, including in-laws). Where the rights of same-gender and different-gender couples, spouses, and families in Hawai>i still differ is in other laws not listed here.

Intangible Benefits

    These are emotionally important rights. They can also, under certain circumstances (such as a jury award), be of great economic value.

Substantial Benefits

    Spousal- and Dependent-Support Benefits.

    Here the law requires one spouse to support the other. The benefit is to the other spouse.

 

560:1-201 contains general definitions used in the probate code. Where spouses are referred to, the definitions are inclusive of both same-gender or different-gender spouses.
560:2-102 entitles spouse to the most senior claim to an estate, whether same-gender or different-gender.
560:2-103 listed inheritance rights of others. Where it refers to spouses, it is inclusive of both same-gender and different-gender spouses.
560:2-114 defines children for inheritance purposes. Where it refers to spouses, it is inclusive of both same-gender and different-gender spouses.
560:2-201 provides additional specialized definitions. It includes definitions of reciprocal beneficiaries and their relationship for use in inheritance.
560:2-202 defines inheritance shares. Where it refers to spouses, it is inclusive of both same-gender and different-gender spouses.
560:2-203 refers to details of inheritance. Where it refers to spouses, it is inclusive of both same-gender and different-gender spouses.
560:2-205 refers to further details of inheritance. Where it refers to spouses, it is inclusive of both same-gender and different-gender spouses.
560:2-206 refers to details of inheritance dealing with transfers from the deceased to a spouse, whether same-gender or different gender.
560:2-207 refers to details of inheritance dealing with transfers from the surviving spouse (whether same-gender or different-gender) to others.
560:2-208 refers to details of inheritance including exclusions. Where it refers to spouses, it is inclusive of both same-gender and different-gender spouses.
560:2-209 refers to details of inheritance including a payment amount available to spouses, whether same-gender or different-gender, known as an Aelective share.@
560:2-210 discusses details of inheritance including the liability of people who may have received any transfers from the deceased. Where it refers to spouses, it is inclusive of both same-gender and different-gender spouses.
560:2-211 discusses details of inheritance including the Aelective share,@ a payment available to the spouse, whether same-gender or different-gender.
560:2-212 discusses details of inheritance including the Aelective share,@ a payment available to the spouse, whether same-gender or different-gender.
560:2-213 discusses details of inheritance including the Aelective share,@ a payment available to the spouse, whether same-gender or different-gender.
560:2-214 discusses details of inheritance including the liability of certain persons and the Aelective share,@ a payment available to the spouse. Wherever it refers to spouses, it is inclusive of both same-gender and different-gender spouses.
560:2-301 grants special rights to the spouse, even in some cases where the spouse may not have been named in the deceased=s will. Wherever it refers to spouses, it is inclusive of both same-gender and different-gender spouses.
560:2-402 grants special rights to the spouse to receive certain funds on a priority basis. Wherever it refers to spouses, it is inclusive of both same-gender and different-gender spouses.
560:2-403 grants special rights to the spouse to receive certain property from the estate. Wherever it refers to spouses, it is inclusive of both same-gender and different-gender spouses.
560:2-404, among other things, grants special rights to the spouse to receive additional funds from the estate. Wherever it refers to spouses, it is inclusive of both same-gender and different-gender spouses.
560:2-405 discusses details of inheritance including the special funds for spouses. Wherever it refers to spouses, it is inclusive of both same-gender and different-gender spouses.
560:2-705 discusses details of inheritance including matters concerning definitions for terms in wills. Wherever it refers to spouses, it is inclusive of both same-gender and different-gender spouses.
560:2-711 discusses details of inheritance including matters concerning definitions for terms in wills. Wherever it refers to spouses, it is inclusive of both same-gender and different-gender spouses.
560:2-802 discusses inheritance matters, including the effect of couples dissolving their certified relationships, whether the couple is same-gender or different-gender. Wherever it refers to spouses, it is inclusive of both same-gender and different-gender spouses.
560:2-803 generally provides, among other things, that if a spouse kills the other spouse, he/she will not be entitled to any inheritance benefits. Wherever it refers to spouses, it is inclusive of both same-gender and different-gender spouses.
560:2-804 discusses inheritance matters, including the effect of ending a certified relationship, whether same-gender or different-gender. Wherever it refers to spouses, it is inclusive of both same-gender and different-gender spouses.
560:3-203 discusses inheritance matters, including giving the spouse a hire priority to be the Apersonal representative@ with certain powers in the inheritance procedures. Wherever it refers to spouses, it is inclusive of both same-gender and different-gender spouses. See also Section 560:3-703.
560:3-301 discusses inheritance matters, including informal probate procedures. Wherever it refers to spouses, it is inclusive of both same-gender and different-gender spouses.
560:3-302 discusses inheritance matters, including informal probate procedures. Wherever it refers to spouses, it is inclusive of both same-gender and different-gender spouses.
560:3-403 discusses inheritance matters, including formal procedures. Wherever it refers to spouses, it is inclusive of both same-gender and different-gender spouses.
560:3-703 discusses inheritance matters, including the duties of the Apersonal representative@ (see Section 560:3-203). Wherever it refers to spouses, it is inclusive of both same-gender and different-gender spouses.
560:3-713 discusses inheritance matters, including matters concerning the Apersonal representative@ (see Section 560:3-203). Wherever it refers to spouses, it is inclusive of both same-gender and different-gender spouses.
560:3-901 discusses inheritance matters, including carrying out wills. Wherever it refers to spouses, it is inclusive of both same-gender and different-gender spouses.
560:3-902 discusses inheritance matters, including distribution of property. Wherever it refers to spouses, it is inclusive of both same-gender and different-gender spouses.
560:3-906 discusses inheritance matters, including the distribution of assets. Wherever it refers to spouses, it is inclusive of both same-gender and different-gender spouses.
560:3-915 discusses inheritance matters, including the distribution of property. Wherever it refers to spouses, it is inclusive of both same-gender and different-gender spouses.
560:3-916 discusses inheritance matters, including estate taxes. Wherever it refers to spouses, it is inclusive of both same-gender and different-gender spouses.
560:3-1212 discusses inheritance matters, including deaths of persons without relatives. Wherever it refers to spouses, it is inclusive of both same-gender and different-gender spouses.
560:5-301 grants special rights to spouses in certain procedures dealing with naming guardians for heirs who may be incapacitated. Wherever it refers to spouses, it is inclusive of both same-gender and different-gender spouses.
560:5-309 discusses various matters, including some special proceedings dealing with guardians (see Section 560:5-301). Wherever it refers to spouses, it is inclusive of both same-gender and different-gender spouses.
560:5- 311 names spouse for special authority in certain procedures dealing with guardians (see Section 560:5-301). Wherever it refers to spouses, it is inclusive of both same-gender and different-gender spouses.
560:5-312 discusses various matters dealing with guardians (see Section 560:5-301). Wherever it refers to spouses, it is inclusive of both same-gender and different-gender spouses.
560:5-408 discusses inheritance matters, including powers of the court in handling certain inheritance cases. Wherever it refers to spouses, it is inclusive of both same-gender and different-gender spouses.
560:5-410 discusses inheritance matters, including guardians. Wherever it refers to spouses, it is inclusive of both same-gender and different-gender spouses.
560:5-422 discusses inheritance matters, including guardians. Wherever it refers to spouses, it is inclusive of both same-gender and different-gender spouses.
560:5-601 discusses inheritance matters and provides some definitions. Wherever it refers to spouses, it is inclusive of both same-gender and different-gender spouses.
560:6-107 discusses inheritance matters including some transfers of assets. Wherever it refers to spouses, it is inclusive of both same-gender and different-gender spouses.
 

    Health Insurance Benefits.

    Other Insurance Benefits.     Government and Private Retirement Benefits.

    Private Workers= Compensation Benefits.

    Wrongful Death Benefits.

    Savings in ACreating the Relationship.@

    Estate Taxes and Related Matters.

  ATenancy by the Entirety@ Benefits.

General Benefits

These are a relatively large number of rights that are of limited economic value when applied singly to the couple, but when grouped together may add up to a major benefit.

79-7: when a public employee dies, payment is made for any vacation time that may have been saved up but not used. The payment goes to whoever the employee had named. In many cases, however, no eligible person had been named. In that case the payment goes to the worker=s spouse whether same-gender or different-gender.
79-13 allows a public employee to take three paid days off, as selected by the worker, when a family member dies. That includes, of course, the worker=s own grandparents, parents, children (including h~nai children, an informal Hawaiian form of adopted or foster children). The law also provides for the leave if the death is a spouse (same- or different-gender), the spouse=s parents, or the spouse=s children.
83-8: when a public worker is assigned to another agency for over eight months, the first agency can pay for the moving costs of the worker=s spouse (same-gender or different-gender), their children, household goods and personal effects.
88-163: this benefit exists for some former public-employee members of a police force, fire department, or band. It is limited to a relatively small number of persons who generally began work in these jobs before 1928 and who had not already retired. Benefits are similar to other public workers, as described in the Asubstantial benefit@ section above.
88-189: this benefit exists for some former county employees who, as of 1937, were retired and getting benefits under county retirement plans but who were not qualified to enter into the new integrated retirement system described in the Asubstantial benefit@ section above. Benefits are similar to other public workers.
105-2: in general, it is illegal to use a public vehicle for personal use, including driving to and from work. Exceptions are made in this law, however, and these exceptions include public workers who are at work and then have to transport their spouse (same-gender or different-gender) or immediate family member somewhere because of an emergency due to the illness of the spouse or family member.
171-74 requires, in order to get a residential lease of public lands, that the applicant not be single but rather be supporting at least one other person who is related by blood or marriage and who is wholly dependent on the applicant. This restriction is waived, however, if the applicant is a couple (whether same-gender or not). On the other hand, a second restriction establishes a maximum income limit for the applicant, and the applicant must count any spousal income in their total.
171-99, in its sub-section 171-99(e), describes who has the right to inherit a residential lease to public land upon the death of the lessee. Of the 11 listed categories of potential inheritors, spouses (whether same-gender or different-gender) are at the top. If the spouse later remarries, the lease stays with that couple, but if the spouse then dies, the lease does not pass automatically to their new spouse but rather to the children of the first relationship if they claim it.
209-28 and 209-29 authorizes and sets eligibility standards for disaster loans to couples (whether same-gender or different-gender) and their families.
247-3 exempts couples (same-gender or different gender) from having to pay the conveyance tax between themselves, which is a tax attached to the sale of real estate. The exemption goes to far as to include sales of real estate between the couple at time of ending their certified relationship.
306-1 provides that health, dining, housing, parking, and athletic facilities within the full UH system be open equally to couples whether same-gender or different-gender, and their families.
324-22 requires researchers to receive permission before using certain medical information of a patient. If the patient is deceased or unable to act, then the permission must be gotten from their spouse (either same-gender or different-gender) if there is a spouse, and if there is no spouse to act, then from their family (the family being the one created by the couple, whether same-gender or different-gender.
Chapter 338, which deals with the keeping of vital statistics including such things as records of divorce. Although no part of the Chapter directly mentions same-gender couples, legislative staff commented in the Chapter=s annotations on the existence of the same-gender law (Chapter 572C, above) which establishes certain vital statistics and documents regarding same-gender couples.
351-2 allows for the compensation by the government to certain victims of crimes. Certain rights and payments are made in some cases to the victim=s relatives, and first among these is the spouse, whether same-gender or different gender.
352-13 provides for counseling services for the family of youths who are committed to youth correctional facilities. The family includes the couple, whether same-gender or different-gender.
353-17: prisoners in correction facilities may be granted furloughs, including out-of-state furloughs, in certain cases, including the death or critical illness or injury of the prisoner=s spouse (whether same-gender or different-gender) and their immediate family.
388-4: Wages, vacation, or sick leave pay due to a deceased private worker shall be paid to the surviving spouse, whether same-gender or different-gender. If there is no surviving spouse, then to an adult child of theirs.
398-3 entitles a private worker to four weeks of unpaid family leave per year on the birth or adoption of a child, or to provide care for a serious health condition of their spouse (whether same-gender or different-gender), their children, or their parents.
443B-1, dealing with collection agencies, refers to spouses whether same-gender or different-gender.
516-71 exempts from the residential-lease-sale disclosure law any sales between spouses, whether same-gender or different-gender.
586-1 provides definitions for this Chapter which involves special protective orders to protect family members from domestic abuse. Defines spouses as family members, whether same-gender or different-gender.
Chapter 632 discusses certain powers of judges. Legislative staff commentary about the Chapter mentions the reciprocal-beneficiary law and how it might be affected by this Chapter.
706-670.5 provides special rights to victims of crimes, including spouses of victims, whether same-gender or different-gender spouses.
706-673 provides special rights to victims of crimes, including spouses of victims, whether same-gender or different-gender spouses.
707-769 discusses matters dealing with extortion. Wherever it refers to spouses, it is inclusive of both same-gender and different-gender spouses.
708-834 discusses matters dealing with theft. Wherever it refers to spouses, it is inclusive of both same-gender and different-gender spouses.
709-906, among other things, defines as a misdemeanor offense the abuse of family or household members. Wherever it refers to spouses, it is inclusive of both same-gender and different-gender spouses.
801D-2 provides definitions for Chapter 801D which deals with the rights of victims and witnesses in criminal proceedings. Wherever it refers to spouses, it is inclusive of both same-gender and different-gender spouses.