Our society is built around the concept of marriage, but as we know, there should be no difference when it comes to sex. The right to personal choice regarding marriage is inherent in the concept of individual autonomy, which is a right provided and protected in our Constitution.

Based on the recent Supreme Court ruling, same-sex marriage is no longer unconstitutional, and is allowed in every U.S. state. Same-sex couples can now enjoy the same marriage rights provided to opposite-sex couples.

However, as a same-sex couple now able to celebrate the union of marriage—and enjoy the full legal benefits of marriage—what bearing does this have on your financial plans? It is important to take the time to understand the effect and potential benefits now available.

While the full impact is still unfolding, this most recent decision begins with more simplified tax filings for those already married. Previously, couples could jointly file their Federal return, but needed to complete separate, single filings for states that did not recognize their marriage. Now, they can file joint state tax returns in any state. However, it may take some time for state tax authorities to finalize their regulations and issue guidance.

Same-sex married couples will also be able to make unlimited gifts to each other without worrying about gift tax implications. And, in the case of the death of a spouse, these couples can leave property to each other without the survivor needing to pay estate taxes. While this has been in effect at the Federal level, couples were still faced with a hefty estate bill at the state level if they resided in a state that did not recognize their marriage. Again, this recent decision has addressed that issue.

There is still much unfolding in the wake of this major Supreme Court decision. We will continue to provide updates in the column about new benefits that can help same-sex couples from a financial planning perspective.

Gay Life August 2015

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