Benefits Fairness Act

Benefits Fairness Act
Key Provisions

The purpose of this legislation is to create a new category of contractual relationships entitled "reciprocal beneficiary contracts." It recognizes that situations exist where people are in interdependent mutually supportive relationships who are ineligible for marriage but who nevertheless would benefit from a status similar to next-of-kin status. The bill defines specific benefits that would accrue to people who enter into a reciprocal beneficiary contract.

This bill establishes a new Chapter 209E, "Reciprocal Beneficiary Contracts." It includes definitions and eligibility requirements, and defines the process of creating or terminating a Reciprocal Beneficiary Contract with the Secretary of State.

Other sections of the bill amend existing laws to extend the following rights and benefits to reciprocal beneficiaries:

1. Hospital visitation rights;

2. The right to designate a reciprocal beneficiary to make health care decisions in the event the other reciprocal beneficiary is unable to do so;

3. Automatic revocation of a health care proxy upon the termination of a "Reciprocal Beneficiary Contract";

4. The right of the surviving reciprocal beneficiary to authorize organ and tissue donations unless the deceased reciprocal beneficiary has specifically and previously indicated otherwise;

5. The right to make funeral arrangements for one another;

6. The right of insurers to include reciprocal beneficiaries, like relatives:

a. In a liability insurance contract;
b. As recipients of annuities under a group annuity contract;
c. In a group life insurance contract;
d. As recipients of life insurance proceeds in the event no designated beneficiary is alive;
e. Under any general or blanket accident or health insurance policy;

7. The right to have health coverage extended for a period of 39 weeks, when a policyholder of a group medical insurance becomes ineligible because of involuntary layoff or death;

8. The right to create a tenancy in common or joint tenancy with survivorship for a home;

9. Certain rights under the Homestead Protection Act which protects home ownership in the event of personal bankruptcy;

10. Inheritance rights when there is no will;

11. Next of kin status for the reciprocal beneficiary of a mental health patient;

12. Right to recover damages arising out of injury to the reciprocal beneficiary.


 













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