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By: Scott Grossman on May 12th, 2017

Estate Administration for Same Sex Couples

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 concerning 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:

  1. 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.”
  2. For same-sex couples where one spouse was a military member, the surviving spouse may now be eligible to receive the same government benefits as a heterosexual couple.
  3. Similarly, spouses in a same-sex marriage may now receive state-issued benefits as well, such as Medicaid.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Same-sex couples may now create joint marital trusts regardless of the state they live in.
  7. Same-sex couples may now take advantage of the same estate tax reduction tools as straight couples.
  8. The surviving spouse of the 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.
  9. 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.


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