What Now For Same Sex Couples In New York? – Estate Planning Thoughts


Having not posted anything for a while it seems appropriate that my return-post – if I can be dramatic about it – should be on the subject that I’ve dedicated a fair amount of screen space to, that of marriage equality.  So thanks to NYC for bring me back to the blog-o-webs!

Now that the GLBT community can finally *really* ask people to buy them stuff from a wedding registry there are likley to be a number of changes relevant to estate planning for them, not all of which can be forseen.  From Professor Beyer though comes a list of some of the most likley changes.

  • Couples can file a joint state tax return but will have to file separate federal tax returns. For couples who earn less than $65,000 a year jointly, the amount they pay in state income taxes may decrease because they will receive a marriage bonus. Couples in a higher bracket, however, may end up paying more by filing a joint tax return.
  • Couples may spend more time and money preparing their tax returns as they must prepare a dummy federal tax return using a married status in order to use that data while filing their state joint tax return.
  • New York allows spouses to transfer an unlimited amount of assets at their death; individuals must pay state estate tax on estates over $1 million. (Couples will still be considered as individuals with regard to federal estate and gift taxes).
  • Spouses of state employees will be eligible for health insurance, pension survivor benefits, and any other benefits available for state employees.
  • For married lesbian couples having a baby, the woman who did not give birth to the couple’s child will also be recognized as a parent on the child’s birth certificate. (It may still be wise to have a formal adoption to secure the child’s legal status to both women).
  • For married gay men using a surrogate, only the biological father will be listed on the child’s birth certificate. In New York, the surrogate mother must relinquish her maternal rights before the other father can adopt the child.
  • Spouses may now bring wrongful death claims and receive worker’s compensation benefits if their spouse dies in a work-related injury.
  • Couples will receive federal benefits if the Defense of Marriage Act (which defines marriage as being between a man and a woman) is ever struck down.

Now, we’ll have to wait for the family law blawgers to update us on the new state of their businesses!

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