Under the law of the State of Hawaii, specifically the Reciprocal Beneficiaries Act, two people who cannot legally marry can register with the state to receive some of the same benefits that are enjoyed by married couples. Hawaii also offers civil unions as an alternative to traditional marriage.
Who Qualifies to Register as Reciprocal Beneficiaries?Any two Hawaii residents who are over the age of 18 and are not permitted to legally marry are eligible to register as reciprocal beneficiaries. This now includes, for example:
- Adult brothers and sisters
- A widowed parent and an adult child
- Aunts/uncles and nieces/nephews
Each person attempting to register must also be unmarried and not already registered as a reciprocal beneficiary.
Do We Have to Live Together In Order to Register?No. The Hawaiian law does not require that the two adults be in a committed relationship or be living together to be able to register as reciprocal beneficiaries.
Why Should My Partner and I Register as Reciprocal Beneficiaries?Registering as reciprocal beneficiaries will afford you and your partner many of the same benefits that the state already gives to married couples. Examples of these include:
- Hospital visitation rights
- The ability to sue for wrongful death
- Property and inheritance rights
- The extension of family health insurance benefits to your partner
How Do You Register as Reciprocal Beneficiaries?Registration takes place through Hawaii's State Department of Health. You and your partner must fill out an application, have it notarized, and submit it to the Department of Health with a small fee.
How Do You Terminate a Reciprocal Beneficiaries Relationship?To terminate a reciprocal beneficiary relationship either person, not both, must file a notarized declaration with the Department of Health and pay a small fee. A marriage license issued to a reciprocal beneficiary will also terminate the relationship. It is important to note that it only takes one of the reciprocal beneficiaries to terminate the relationship, and that one person can do so without the other's consent or even knowledge.
Do I Need a Lawyer to Register as Reciprocal Beneficiaries?
While you and your partner do not need a lawyer to register as reciprocal beneficiaries, you should consult a Hawaii attorney to ensure that you are both provided for in the event of illness or death.