What effect did the holding in Obergefell v. Hodges have on same-sex marriage estate planning opportunities?

It was clear that the Supreme Court would soon get involved as numerous states created legislation requiring same-sex marriages to be recognized as legal rights. On June 26, 2015, in Obergefell v. Hodges, a long-time same-sex couple from Ohio got their day in court. On that day, the Supreme Court ruled that all State laws that ban same-sex marriage are effectively invalidated. Specifically, the Supreme Court made the following changes to the application of the 14th Amendment to the States:

  • The 14th Amendment requires States to issue marriage licenses to individuals of the same gender; and
  • The 14th Amendment requires States to formally recognize same-sex marriages of that state’s residents, when those residents entered into a same-sex marriage in another state where the marriage was legally valid.

The holding in Obergefell v. Hodges had a large impact on the estate planning and similar other opportunities for same-sex couples. Pursuant to the Supreme Court’s holding, same-sex spouses now have the same rights as married couples of the opposite-sex. Specifically, post Obergefell v. Hodges, same-sex spouses are entitled to all State tax benefits and other marital benefits that other couples enjoy. This includes: marriage, divorce, adoption and child custody, marital property, spousal privilege, survivorship (tenants by entirety), contract rights, etc. Same-sex spouses can also take advantage of estate planning marital deductions, portability of the Federal estate tax exemption, joint tax returns, and other planning opportunities opposite-sex married couples have traditionally had access to.

Therefore, now that the new laws exist, it is extremely important to have your estate plan reviewed to ensure that you are fully protected and have taken advantage of all of the new benefits Obergefell v. Hodges has availed same-sex spouses to.

For more information on Asset protection, Estate planning, Business Law and/or Probate please contact the attorneys of The Presser Law Firm, P.A.