reciprocal beneficiaries

Primary tabs

Reciprocal Beneficiaries is a status in the state of Hawaii which grants two individuals certain privileges akin to but falling short of marriage. Hawaii Revised Statute § 572C–1 states that the purpose of granting reciprocal beneficiary status is “to extend certain rights and benefits which are presently available only to married couples to couples composed of two individuals who are legally prohibited from marrying under state law.” § 572C–2 states that the intended beneficiaries of this law are individuals who have “significant personal, emotional, and economic relationships with another individual yet are prohibited be legal restrictions from marrying,” and gives the example of “a widowed mother and her unmarried son.” § 572C–4 creates five requirements that must be met for two individuals to enter into agreement to become reciprocal beneficiaries:

“(1) Each of the parties be at least eighteen years old;

(2)  Neither of the parties be married, a party to another reciprocal beneficiary relationship, or a partner in a civil union;

(3)  The parties be legally prohibited from marrying one another under chapter 572;

(4)  Consent of either party to the reciprocal beneficiary relationship has not been obtained by force, duress, or fraud; and

 (5)  Each of the parties sign a declaration of reciprocal beneficiary relationship as provided in section § 572C–5.” [Form required in § 572C–5 can be form here.]

The rights of reciprocal beneficiaries are numerous, and roughly resemble the rights between two married partners. Reciprocal beneficiaries have hospital visitation rights, the right to make medical decisions for each other, the right to inherit from each other in the absence of a will, rights to sue for wrongful death, and certain other limited rights under Hawaii state law. Reciprocal beneficiaries may be of the same or opposite sex and may be related—there is no requirement that the two people be in an intimate relationship. § 572C–7 allows individuals to terminate their reciprocal beneficiary agreement by filling out this form; or it provides that the relationship automatically terminates when either party enters into a civil union or marriage in Hawaii or outside of Hawaii. 

[Last updated in December of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team]