In June of 2015 the United States Supreme Court ruled in the landmark case of Obergefell v. Hodges that same sex couples in every state have the right to get married, and as such, have all the same rights that spouses have traditionally had in heterosexual marriages.
In the past, people in same sex relationships had to plan differently than people in traditional heterosexual marriages, because the laws pertaining to estate and income taxes, rights in each other’s property and rights to make decisions for each other are different for married couples than for non-married couples. Even in those states that before the Supreme Court Ruling recognized same sex marriage, federal law still did not allow same sex married couples in those states the same rights as heterosexual married couples with regard to things governed by federal rather than state law.
Now, with same sex marriage being the law of the land, all of the planning opportunities available all along for heterosexual married couples are available to same sex married couples. These include strategies to eliminate or save estate taxes, rights to receive each other’s pensions, right’s in each other’s health care, rights in each other’s assets and more.
My experience prior to the Supreme Court ruling was that many same sex couples would not travel to a same sex marriage state for the purpose of getting married when they were going to remain living in Missouri. This was because being legally married in another state conferred no new rights on them once they returned home. With the advent of same sex marriage being permitted now in every state without qualification, same sex couples are now free to get married in the locale in which they reside and in doing so, take advantage of all of the laws favorable to married couples, including those that pertain to estate planning.
As a word of caution, same sex couples who choose to remain single will not be able to take advantage of the estate planning and other laws that particularly apply to only married couples. They will continue to be treated with respect to these laws the same as heterosexual couples who choose to remain single.
This article was originally published by Steve Spewak on EstatePlanMO.com. It is republished here with permission.