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Estate Planning Tips for Same-Sex Couples

07/14/2016

Estate Planning Tips for Same-Sex Couples

There are a number of key dates when laws changed for same-sex couples, including the date when the IRS began accepting jointly filed federal tax returns from same-sex couples married in states that sanctioned their unions. But the days of filing with a different marital status for state returns are over, according to Bankrate’s article, “Same-sex marriage tax and estate planning tips.”

The court ruling also opened up a new world of estate planning for same-sex married couples. With that in mind, here are some estate planning tips.

Marital deduction and portability. Same-sex married couples are now able to use the unlimited marital deduction from federal estate tax and gift tax for transfers between spouses. In most situations, one spouse can leave an unlimited amount to his or her surviving spouse without any federal estate tax liability. Also, the portability provisions of federal gift and estate tax laws typically allow a surviving spouse, regardless of gender, to use any portion of his or her deceased spouse's unused applicable estate and gift exclusion amount—for 2016, that amount is $5.45 million per spouse.

Greater gift splitting. Same-sex married couples also now can use gift splitting—with the annual gift exclusion amount of $14,000. A same-sex spouse is allowed—with the consent of his or her husband or wife—to give a total as if each spouse contributed half of the amount. This lets married couples increase their total gift tax exemption amount.

Tax and estate help. Some states have their own estate taxes in addition to the federal estate tax. Don’t allow a state tax collector to get a big chunk of your estate in taxes by failing to plan for estate taxes.

All married couples should sit down with an estate planning attorney to create an estate plan and review their situation with regard to their state’s estate tax laws. These are complex matters that require the skill and knowledge of an experienced attorney.

Reference: Bankrate (June 23, 2016) “Same-sex marriage tax and estate planning tips”

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