By Linda T. Cammuso
In a highly anticipated ruling the U.S. Supreme Court declared portions of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional. The provision of DOMA defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman was struck down and held to deny same-sex couples the “equal liberty” guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment. The 5-4 decision means that legally married same-sex couples are now entitled to the same federal benefits as married opposite sex couples.
The DOMA ruling dramatically changes financial and estate planning for same-sex couples. Areas implicated include federal benefits such as Social Security, Medicare and Veterans benefits; Retirement benefits; Federal transfer taxes including the estate tax and the gift tax; and federal income taxes.
Same-sex couples who have previously done estate plans should seek advice from an estate planning specialist about changing their plans so they can benefit from the changes. Those who have not made an estate plan yet should schedule an appointment with an expert who can help them through the process of protecting themselves and their loved ones.
Additionally, same-sex married couples should immediately consult their CPA (or for those who have historically filed their own returns – get a CPA!) for advice on seeking retroactive tax treatment, especially for tax years that are still open, namely 2010, 2011 and 2012.
Coming your way soon: More details about the DOMA ruling and estate planning for same sex couples. Please visit us again at www.estatepreservationlaw.com/blog. Or, feel free to contact us at 508-751-5010.