People in California know that the Supreme Court handed down a tremendously important decision last month overturning Proposition 8. Proposition 8, the voter initiative that outlawed same-sex marriages within the state, was effectively nullified by the Supreme Court's decision, which has now cleared the way for same-sex marriages to legally resume all over California.
Another major milestone in the battle for same-sex equality came with the Supreme Court's striking down of the Defense of Marriage Act, which forbid same-sex married couples from receiving the same federal benefits that straight couples are entitled to. With the ruling, DOMA can no longer discriminate against same-sex married partners, who will now be entitled to all the valuable benefits such as Medicare and Social Security that other couples have long enjoyed.
Many rejoicing same-sex couples across the state wasted no time in celebrating the ruling, as well as celebrating their weddings.
Not only is a marriage a symbol of love and commitment between two people, it also carries important legal significance. Married partners are able to transfer assets freely between each other, while other people are limited to transferring only certain amounts before federal taxes kick in. Married partner benefits, including Social Security and many retirement accounts, are also significant, and can protect people from unnecessary taxation when a spouse dies.
Now that DOMA has been largely overturned, same-sex married partners will have some important estate plan questions to address. As part of the larger financial plan, people should consider their heirs and inheritance objectives, so they can protect themselves from unnecessary taxation and get the most from their hard-earned money. An experienced estate planning attorney can help people prepare for their future as well as keep up with important new strides in the law that could change how same-sex and straight married couples alike approach their estate plan.
Source: Reuters "Supreme Court justice denies bid to stop California gay marriages," Casey Sullivan, June 30, 2013