New Planning Opportunities for Same-Sex Couples

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The recent Supreme Court case, United States v. Windsor, declaring portions of the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”) unconstitutional, has created some dramatic new planning opportunities for same-sex couples who are married in states such as Maine that recognize same-sex marriage. Before Windsor, DOMA prevented same-sex couples who were legally married from taking advantage of the unlimited estate tax marital deduction and the tax planning options available to other married couples. As a result of Windsor, in those states that recognize same-sex marriage, the federal tax planning opportunities and federal benefits should now be the same for all couples who are married under state law, regardless of gender. In Maine that benefit should translate to Maine state taxes as well. Couples who have struggled with estate tax planning as a result of their same-sex union may now have access to new and useful strategies. Windsor left many open questions which may still affect Maine couples. Nuances with important practical implications still exist and remain to be resolved in the coming months and years for same-sex couples, but some very significant issues are now settled and will provide much greater flexibility in planning. We would be happy to discuss such new planning opportunities with you.