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Legal Considerations for Same-Sex Couples

Avoiding the Legal Hurdles of Gestational Surrogacy

Same-sex couples are finding that the growing acceptance of same-sex marriage is making legal matters, such as taxes, less tedious and on par with opposite-sex marriage. The Windsor case was a groundbreaking case for same-sex couples and opened the doors for these couples to file joint federal income tax returns, or file as married filing separately.

These filing options allow same-sex couples to enjoy the same benefits as all married couples.

In terms of federal taxes, the IRS ruled that all same-sex couples will be treated as married couples despite their current state’s same-sex marriage policies.

The Supreme Court ruling in June allowed for a nationwide recognition of same-sex marriage. Legally, the union must be recognized, and there have been major changes for all couples as a result.

Income Taxes

The recent legalization of same-sex marriages across the country allows same-sex couples to file jointly under the new laws. This allows for state tax filing to be much easier. Federal taxes used to allow joint filing, while state filing depended on the state.

Now, couples can file jointly on both the state and federal level.

Employee Benefits

Spousal benefits are now open to all couples. Partners have the opportunity to be added to employer-sponsored healthcare coverage and other benefits. A tax-free benefit, traditional health-care coverage applies to all married couples.

The Family and Medical Leave Act further extends to married couples.

Retirement plans are also affected. A spouse must consent to a designation if the funds are to be left to someone other than a spouse. Survivor benefits are also allowed to be collected by the spouse.

Social Security

Social security benefits can be approached in the same manner as regular married couples. A spouse can claim spousal benefits, and now, if one spouse dies, the living spouse can claim survivor benefits.

Estate Planning

One of the major hurdles of same-sax marriage was estate planning. Under DOMA, same-sex couples had to pay a gift tax on property handed down to a spouse. This tax has now been eliminated, resulting in significant savings.

Spouses now have the opportunity to combine gift-tax inclusions to a level of $28,000 to each person without tax consequences.

The surviving spouse qualifies for unlimited marital deduction when inheriting an estate of a deceased spouse.

Considerations Under the New Ruling

If you’re currently in a same-sex marriage, there are a lot of things to consider. You’ll want to overview the following:

  • The affects on taxes, benefits and finances.
  • Current beneficiaries for retirement, bank and insurance accounts should be revised to include your spouse.
  • Power-of-attorney forms must be updated to include a spouse as well as other healthcare directives.
  • Contact a financial advisor or estate planning attorney to discuss additional steps to take following the new ruling.

The new ruling by the Supreme Court allows same-sex couples the same benefits as regular married couples. It’s important that you update any existing estate plans to include your spouse, and that you add your spouse to your healthcare directives, will, retirement accounts and bank accounts.

The Micklin Law Group, LLC is a New Jersey law firm focusing exclusively on family law for men and fathers. Attorney Brad Micklin was recently named to The National Advocates list of Top 100 attorneys from each state. To set up a consultation, call 973-562-0100.

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