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Estate planning and same-sex marriage considerations

Since the Supreme Court's recent landmark decision legalizing same-sex marriage across the nation, Florida residents in same-sex relationships may want to consider some important estate planning factors. Doing so can help couples to take advantage of some of the benefits to which they are now entitled, allowing for the easy passing of their estates to the surviving spouse.

A primary consideration for those who are living together, are in civil unions or are in domestic partnerships with their same-sex partners is whether to get married. Doing so will allow people to reap the advantages inherent in the marriage deduction, potentially saving thousands on their taxes. The marital deduction extends beyond normal tax returns, as it also applies in an unlimited basis to estate taxes. All property left to a surviving spouse is exempt from federal estate tax, even if the value exceeds the estate tax exemption amount.

Estate planning documents that have been previously drawn should be revisited. It may make sense to allocate property to the surviving spouse as it will no longer be subject to the 40 percent estate tax if it is beyond the exemption amount. Similarly, retirement plans should be reviewed, as should life insurance policies. People may want to switch from individual policies to ones with survivor benefits.

It is exciting that the Supreme Court took a stand and legalized same sex marriage nationwide. Reviewing estate planning documents and updating them where needed can help couples take advantage of all of the tax benefits they can enjoy. People may want to seek a consultation with an estate planning attorney who can make recommendations about additional ones that are needed or how they should be modified.

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