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Gay Colorado man
can sue for the right to inherit partner's estate

Gay Colorado man
can sue for the right to inherit partner's estate


A typed letter from a gay man's deceased partner may qualify as a will, the Colorado court of appeals ruled on Thursday.

A gay Colorado man's fight for his late partner's estate may continue, the Colorado court of appeals ruled on Thursday. Randall Rex has argued that a typed letter in a birthday card given to him by his late partner qualifies as a will, according to the Associated Press.

The court ruling revives Rex's claim to the estate of Ronald Wiltfong, who gave Rex the card in 2003 with a letter that said Rex should inherit his property if anything happened to him. It said Rex, their pets, and an aunt were his only family and that "everyone else is dead to me."

Wiltfong died of a heart attack in 2004, according to the AP. Margaret Tovrea, the mother of Wiltfong's three nephews and legal heirs if he died without a will, challenged the letter held by Rex. A lower court ruled the will wasn't valid because, while Wiltfong had signed the letter in the presence of two friends, it said he hadn't also acknowledged the letter was his will.

But the appeals court said the law requires only that it either be signed or acknowledged as a will and sent the case back for reconsideration.

The case has been seized upon by advocates of a Colorado referendum on the November 7 ballot that would make surviving domestic partners the presumed heirs of property just as surviving spouses now are. Under current law, same-sex and married couples can draw up wills stating who should inherit their property when they die. If there is no will or the will is found to be invalid, a surviving spouse is presumed to be the primary, if not the sole heir, of the property, Stan Kent, a probate lawyer in Colorado Springs told AP.

Kent said Referendum I would give that same presumption to surviving domestic partners so relatives would be less likely to challenge the validity of any wills they have. (The Advocate)

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