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Modern Estate Planning Blog

Elder Law & Special Needs Planning

DOMA Ruling Implications for Estate Planning Lawyers in Sacramento and Their Clients

November 11, 2013

The recent DOMA ruling has some pretty interesting implications for estate planning lawyers in Sacramento, CA. Those with clients in same-sex relationships are likely to be looking at whole new way of working with and protecting those clients and their estates. Where there used to be a lot of additional hoops to jump through, the June Supreme Court ruling that called the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, has paved the way for a less complicated processes.

Basically, same-sex marriages are now recognized by the IRS for any federal tax purpose. Estate planning lawyers deal with any number of taxes for their clients; so, there are plenty of very real implications that result from the changes in law. As more and more states move to legalize same-sex marriages, estate planning lawyers nationwide will be revamping how they approach planning for gay, bi-sexual, and transgender clients.

Whether the couple lives in one of these states or not, however, the federal government allows for same-sex spouses to leave property to one another without paying federal gift and estate taxes, as was the case in the past. Instead, these relationships are treated the same as heterosexual marriages where a surviving spouse is eligible for marital deductions, as well as the ability to defer certain taxes based on the deceased spouse’s exemptions.

There are plenty of kinks that need to be ironed out of the system. States where the marriages aren’t recognized could require the couple to file taxes separately, while they would file federal taxes jointly. It’s possible that some of these states will end up making some changes to the rules to recognize same-sex marriages for tax purposes only. Social Security benefits are another sticking point, although the feds are working to remedy that.

Because of the confusion and the fact that this is all so new, it’s a good idea to work with a reputable estate planning lawyer in Sacramento, preferably one who has experience working with clients in same-sex relationships. Someone who was already working with these clients will be especially up-to-date on how the new rulings affect his or her clients.

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