If You Are Part of a Same-Sex Couple

In June 2013, the United States Supreme Court declared that certain parts of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”) are unconstitutional.  This is good news for married same-sex couples in Massachusetts, since these couples’ marriages are now recognized for purposes of federal law (including federal estate tax and income tax provisions).  Estate planners in Massachusetts can now do the same kind of planning for married same-sex couples that they do for married opposite-sex couples.

Nevertheless, same sex couples often face unique challenges.  For example, an estate plan should be drafted in anticipation of the possibility that a married same-sex couple might eventually move to a state that does not recognize same-sex marriage.  In addition, same-sex couples with children need to pay special attention to how their estate planning documents are drafted to ensure that their children will qualify as their beneficiaries, even if the children are not biologically related to both parents.  For these reasons, same-sex couples should seriously consider working with an estate planner who has experience handling the unique issues inherent to same-sex marriage.