The Texas transgendered widow’s estate fight for her late husband's worker's compensation is heating up, reports Victoria Advocate.
Nikki Araguz, who was born Justin Graham Purdue, was married to Thomas Araguz III, reports Houston Chronicle. But Thomas Araguz passed away while fighting a fire. When Nikki Araguz was trying to apply for her late husband’s benefits, a Texas court ruled that she couldn’t, because she was born a man and her marriage to Thomas Araguz constituted a same-sex marriage, which is not recognized under Texas law.
The history of this case goes back nearly two years now, as previously reported by FindLaw's Law & Daily Life.
In terms of estate planning is a very tough area. Normally it would be very easy for a widow to receive a husband's benefits after his passing.
As a general rule, modern statutes confer rights of inheritance on a widow. At common law, the wife was entitled to dower, which was a fixed interest in all the land owned by her husband during the marriage. This interest in the lands of her husband was inchoate during his life. She had to survive her husband before she could take possession of her interest in the property.
Most states have now abolished common-law dower and have replaced it with statutes allowing the surviving widow to take an elective share prescribed by statute, usually one-third or what would have gone to her by intestacy or the provision made in her spouse's will.
But, of course, where same-sex marriage nullifies the very idea of spousal relation, things get very complicated. Nikki Araguz has a long fight ahead of her.