OLYMPIA — Gays may be entitled to the estates of partners who die without wills, the Washington Supreme Court ruled Thursday.
The decision came as the justices ordered a new trial for Frank Vasquez, who is claiming the $230,000 estate of his longtime partner. A lower court had found the claim invalid because same-sex marriage is illegal in Washington.
"Equitable claims are not dependent on the ‘legality’ of the relationship between the parties, nor are they limited by the gender or sexual orientation of the parties," Justice Charles Johnson wrote in the unanimous decision.
Vasquez, 64, shared a house, business and financial assets with Robert Schwerzler until Schwerzler died without a will in 1995.
Vasquez claimed the estate, which consisted mainly of the house, and was challenged by Schwerzler’s siblings. The siblings said that they never saw the men display affection, that Vasquez was apparently a housekeeper, and that he did not accompany Schwerzler on trips.