Same-sex marriage has been and, likely, will continue to be a contentious issue in American politics. On March 27, however, the Supreme Court is set to rule in a case that may impact both politics and same-sex estate planning as we know them.
The case going before the Supreme Court is the story of Edith Windsor and Thea Spyer. The subject: the application of the federal estate tax in the context of a “same-sex marriage.” A recent article in Reuters considered the case and its implications. The article titled “Analysis: Death, taxes and Supreme Court's gay marriage case,” notes that the case began when Thea Spyer passed away and left her estate to Edith Windsor, her spouse under Canadian law. However, because the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) precludes same-sex marriage, Spyer’s estate was recognized for purposes of affording the unlimited marital exemption.
This exemption permits a spouse to pass his or her estate to their surviving spouse without federal estate taxation. Because her marital status is not recognized under DOMA, Windsor had to pay the estate tax and her suit is to recover that payment. She is alleging that the basis of the tax, DOMA, is itself unconstitutional.
If the Supreme Court agrees with Windsor, the implications are profound on many levels, to include social and legal. Should DOMA remain the law of the land, then traditional same-sex estate planning will remain unchanged, but no less important.
Have you or your elderly loved ones got your affairs in order by updating your Will and Trust so that your home and cash assets are protected?? There has been many changes in laws and your life that may have impacted your estate plan. Call us for a review!
If you have any questions or would like to schedule a consultation please call Attorney Patrick Kelleher at 781-871-PLAN (7526) or by email at Pat@myfamilylifeplan.com
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Patrick J. Kelleher is a South Shore, MA resident and estate planning attorney serving and protecting families and businesses in the South Shore, MA area. For more information on estate planning visit our firm’s website at www.MyFamilyLifePlan.com where you can check out our Blog, free Newsletter library, free Estate Planning Channel on Youtube and sign up for a Free e-Newsletter!
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This article is not intended to provide legal or tax advice or create or imply an attorney-client relationship. No information contained herein is a substitute for a personal consultation with an attorney.
Reference: Reuters (March 12, 2013) “Analysis: Death, taxes and Supreme Court's gay marriage case”