DOMA Ruling Opens Up Estate Planning Options for Same-Sex Married Couples

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On June 26 the United States Supreme Court held the Federal Defense of Marriage Act ("DOMA") unconstitutional. The Defense of Marriage Act prevented a marriage between two individuals of the same sex from being recognized for federal purposes. This law resulted in disparate treatment and uncertain planning for same-sex married couples in states which legally recognize marriages between two men or two women. Two of those states are Massachusetts and, as of August 1, 2013, Rhode Island.  Now, under the Supreme Court ruling, same-sex couples who are legally married enjoy married status for both federal and state purposes. This ruling affords benefits such as social security survivorship benefits, favorable income tax treatment, and a wide range of estate tax benefits to legally-married same-sex couples. As always, careful analysis and planning is necessary to ensure that your estate planning is properly in place.