Yesterday, the Supreme Court struck down the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in US. v. Windsor. Edie Windsor and Thea Spyer were legally married in Canada and although the state of New York recognized their marriage, the federal government did not under DOMA. When Spyer died, Windsor had to pay $353,053 in Federal estate taxes as a result of the IRS’ disallowance of the marital deduction. Supreme Court affirmed the Second Circuit’s ruling that Section 3 of the DOMA violates the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection of the laws as applied to persons of the same sex who are legally married under the laws of their State.
The Windsor decision has far reaching effects in the field of estate planning for same-sex couples in the 12 states that recognize gay marriage – Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. Same-sex couples married in those states will now be able to gain access to federal rights previously limited to heterosexual married couples, including marital estate tax deduction, spousal Individual Retirement Accounts and federal health benefits.
The Costello Law Group provides full service estate planning and estate administration services. If you have any questions regarding developing or updating your estate plan, please contact the Costello Law Group at (877) 418-0003.