Six Estate Planning Opportunities for Same-Sex Couples in California

In a landmark decision that will be discussed for years to come, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act on July 10, 2013. This section defined the word “marriage” as meaning only between a husband and wife of opposite gender. The Court made a similar ruling about California’s Proposition 8.

With these rulings, same-sex couples in California now have an abundance of estate planning tools newly available to them. As a result, it is vital for same-sex couples and their families to meet with an Anaheim estate planning attorney to discuss modifying their estate plans.

What are some examples of new estate planning opportunities available to same-sex couples as a result of these landmark Supreme Court rulings? The following is an overview of some of these new opportunities. Same-sex couples now have:

  1. The ability to pass wealth between same-sex spouses at death under the marital deduction, without paying a Federal estate tax.
  2. The ability to inherit a deceased spouse’s unused estate and gift tax exemption.
  3. The ability to defer the recognition of income when you inherit an IRA or other qualified retirement plan from your deceased spouse.
  4. The ability to pass wealth between spouses without creating a taxable gift.
  5. The ability to receive Social Security retirement and death benefits.
  6. The ability to “split gifts” made by one spouse to a third party. The result is that the gift is treated as if it had been made half by one spouse and half by the other.

An experienced Anaheim trust attorney can modify your estate plan so that it takes advantage of these new opportunities. Even if you are not part of a same-sex marriage, it is important to consider a modification if you have a loved one who is. At a minimum, following the Supreme Court rulings, the definitions of “spouse,” “children,” or “issue” contained in your trust should now be revised.

To learn more about modifying your estate plan, view our free pamphlet, The Ten Things You Must Know Before Creating (or Amending) Your Will or Trust. Our office of experienced Anaheim estate planning attorneys can provide more information. Call our office today at (714) 459-5481 for a consultation.

James F. Roberts
Founder and owner of the Law Office of James F. Roberts and Associates, a premiere estate planning law firm