Saturday, 23 April 2016 00:37

Same-Sex Couples and Estate Planning

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U.S. v Windsor


U.S. v Windsor was an estate tax case.  A same-sex couple were married in Canada and lived in New York.  One of the parties died in 2009 and gave her entire estate to the other named Edith Windsor.   She tried to claim the federal estate tax marital deduction and was denied by the IRS on the grounds of the DOMA provisions.  DOMA is the Defense of Marriage Act and stated that the definition of “marriage” and “spouse” for the purposes of federal law only included persons of the opposite sex.  Mrs. Windsor took the case to the Supreme Court of the United States and DOMA was held unconstitutional. 


After the U.S. Supreme Court decision, the IRS announced it would recognize for federal tax purposes the validity of a same-sex marriage that was valid in the state in which it was entered into, and it was not important where the couple is domiciled.  There has also been an expansion to include qualified retirement plans.  The decision in this case was on June 26, 2013.  A lot has transpired since this decision and on June 26, 2015 in Obergefell v. Hodges, the United States Supreme Court has declared that same-sex marriage is legal in all 50 states. 



The Effects of Windsor and Obergefell

Prior to the decisions in these two cases, a same-sex couple could not take advantage of the federal estate tax marital deduction, portability, and other deductions.  Post Windsor, estate planning for same-sex couples was complicated in that the couple could take advantage of federal level deductions, but perhaps encounter state level tax implications.  Since Obergefell, estate planning has become less complicated for same-sex couples. 


See lots of estate planning information on my website at:


I would love to help you create your estate plan and help you provide the kind of gift that you want to give to your beneficiaries.  Call me today and we can get it done!


Thanks for reading my blog.


William Daniel Powell


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This document is for informational purposes only.  Nothing in this is to be considered legal advice.  Nothing in this shall create an attorney/client relationship, nor shall it create a confidential relationship.  If you need legal advice (in California), feel free to contact me or someone licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.  I assume no liability or responsibility for actions taken, or not taken, as a result of reading this information

Further, please remember that I speak in generalities in my blog (and on my website). There are so many different factors that can contribute and completely change the outcome that it would not be practical to discuss all of them here.


Last modified on Thursday, 27 April 2017 02:43

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