On June 26th, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a landmark decision regarding the right of same sex couples to marry. The ruling held that every state had to issue marriage licenses for same sex couples. In addition, every state also has to recognize the marriage of two people of the same sex. Regardless if that marriage was performed in another state; as long as the marriage was lawfully licensed and performed in another state. As a result of these important decisions, estate administration between same sex couples may now change. While California has already seen changes with regard to same sex marriage and estate administration, the Supreme Court ruling is making history as it means that same sex couples are now entitled to the same legal protections regardless of what state they live in.
9 Changes to Estate Administration for Same Sex Couples Following Supreme Court Decision
What are some of the changes to estate planning and administration for same sex couples? The following are nine examples:
- The tax code may be revised to remove reference to “husband” and “wife” and instead use terms that are not gender specific, such as “spouse” or “married couple.”
- For same sex couples where one spouse was a military member, the surviving spouse may now be eligible to receive the same governmental benefits as a heterosexual couple.
- Similarly, spouses in a same-sex marriage may now receive state-issued benefits as well, such as Medicaid.
- Same-sex couples can now both legally adopt children. This means that if one spouse passes away, the surviving spouse retains legal rights as a parent to all of the couple’s children. In addition, each of the children now has legal rights to the estates of both parents.
- Regardless of a state’s laws, same sex couples may now be entitled to spousal rights of inheritance, priority to act as a guardian, conservator, or executor of their spouse’s estate, intestate inheritance rights, protected pension rights, and dower rights to protect real estate.
- Same sex couples may now create joint marital trusts regardless of the state they live in.
- Same sex couples may now take advantage of the same estate tax reduction tools as straight couples.
- The surviving spouse of a same sex couple may now have the legal right to plan for the funeral and burial of their spouse since he or she is now recognized as next-of-kin.
- Same sex couples may now create and administer estate plans in the same manner as an opposite sex couple, rather than using special techniques only for same sex couples.
Understanding how to administer an estate requires extensive knowledge of complex trust and estate laws. We are here to help you navigate this process. We encourage you to learn more by checking out our client testimonials today.
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