How the DOMA Decision Affects Estate Planning for Same-Sex Couples

With the Supreme Court striking down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and Proposition 8, you and your same-partner can finally plan your in-state wedding. Once you get married, you're entitled to all the benefits that opposite-sex couples get from both the state and federal governments, which include the following:

  • Joint income tax filing, which can reduce your total tax liability.
  • The right of the survivor to receive the Social Security benefits of the deceased spouse.
  • No taxes on any assets passed by the estate of the deceased to the surviving spouse.
  • Benefits for spouses of Armed Services members including housing and healthcare.

The list goes on to over 1,000 items and must be part of your tax and estate planning. But don't assume that everything is well and good just because both California and the federal government sanction your relationship. If you happen to move to a state that doesn't recognize gay marriage, such as Texas or Georgia, your hard-won assets may evaporate. For example, Social Security only recognizes the marriage standard of the state where you applied for benefits, not where you live. Any plans you have for your estate must consider that reality.

What's more, current laws about same-sex relationships are either uncertain or changing quickly across the country. As your estate and tax attorneys in Torrance, the Law Offices of James C. Shields keeps up to date with all relevant modification so we can protect the assets of you and your loved one. If you contact us before you make any decisions about your estate or taxes, you can benefit from our knowledge and experience.

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