A new bill being considered by the California State Legislature could produce some interesting side effects in the area of wills, trusts and probate administration. The bill, however, is primarily concerned with family law matters and seeks to eliminate the legal mandate that a judge consider no greater than two people to be the legal parents of a child.
Proponents of the bill say that it is necessary in a modern world where surrogacy, same-sex parents, domestic partners and other non-traditional familial relationships are becoming increasingly prevalent. They say that in certain circumstances recognizing three or more parents can be in the best interests of the child.
Proponents also claim that the bill allows a child the potential to obtain more financial support from parents. For example, a child could be included in three or more legal parents' wills or could inherit an intestate share if a parent died without a will. This money could allow a child to rely less on state resources throughout the course of his or her life.
But critics say that probate is just one area of the law tangentially related to the bill that could become more complicated by the proposed legislation. If the bill passes, it may well temporarily muddle the legal landscape of law as far as parentage and intestacy is concerned, but ultimately the additional discretion of a judge to determine multiple parents could be advantageous. The bill would certainly require some people to carefully reconsider the disposition of their estates, and may raise some interesting questions when it comes to wills and trusts.
Source: The Christian Science Monitor, "California bill could allow more than two parents per child," Jim Sanders, July 3, 2012.