Deathbed Partnership Form Was Too Late

     (CN) – A California woman who filed for domestic partnership days after the death of her intended cannot collect pension survivor benefits, a state appeals court ruled.
     James Burnham and Kathleen Honeyman had lived together since 1969, but they did not complete a notarized declaration of domestic partnership until the date of Burnham’s death, Oct. 27, 2007, at the age of 67.
     Burnham and Honeyman had signed their declaration on a Saturday, so Honeyman waited until Monday to file the form with the Office of the Secretary of State.
     For the last year, Burnham had been living with bone-metastasized prostate cancer. He had listed Honeyman as his pension beneficiary since 1978.
     The administrative board of California’s pension system found that Honeyman could collect Burnham’s state pension survivor benefits, but a Sacramento County Superior Court judge overturned that decision in the face of a challenge by Burnham’s two children from a prior marriage.
     The Third Appellate District agreed Friday that Burnham and Honeyman were not domestic partners when he died.
     “We hold that presenting a declaration of domestic partnership for filing with the secretary of state is a necessary prerequisite for a valid domestic partnership, and at the time of presentation, both individuals to the partnership must be capable of consenting,” Justice Ronald Robie wrote for a three-member panel.
     “Here, because Burnham was deceased when Honeyman presented the declaration of domestic partnership for filing with the secretary of state, Honeyman and Burnham never became domestic partners,” he added.

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