Same sex marriage is legal in the state of California. Prior to the landmark Supreme Court ruling on Proposition 8, domestic partnerships were the form of legal recognition available to same sex couples. Since same sex marriage is now legal in California, same sex married couples can enjoy all the benefits of marriage.
Proposition 8 was a ballot proposition and state constitutional amendment passed by California voters in 2008. Proposition 8 was put on the ballot by opponents of same sex marriage in an attempt to ban same sex marriage. Proposition 8 was ruled unconstitutional by a federal appeals court in 2010. The California Attorney General decided not to challenge the federal court decision and backers of Proposition 8 then appealed the decision to the Supreme Court of the United States. In the case Hollingsworth v. Perry, the Supreme Court ruled that the backers of Proposition 8 did not have standing to bring the case. The end result is that Proposition 8 is considered unconstitutional and same sex marriage is now legal in California.
The Defense of Marriage Act was passed by congress in 1996. Under the Defense of Marriage Act, states were allowed to refuse to recognize same sex marriages performed in other states. Also, same sex married couples were not recognized as spouses under federal law. This codified non recognition of same sex marriages for all federal purposes had a dramatic impact on the benefits that same sex married couples were allowed. Insurance benefits, social security survivor benefits, immigration, bankruptcy, and the filing of joint tax returns were areas of law that were impacted by the Defense of Marriage Act. In United States v. Windsor, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional. This ruling means that the federal government must recognize same sex marriages that are performed in states where same sex marriage is legal.
Same sex married couples have the same state tax benefits and requirements as any married California taxpayer. Since the Supreme Court ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional, the federal government will no longer be allowed to treat same sex married couples differently than opposite sex married couples for federal tax purposes. The IRS has not yet officially released any updates to the status of same sex married couples but they will have to make changes before tax filing season begins in January 2014. The estate planning lawyers at Evans Law Firm, Inc. will assist you with navigating the changing laws relating to same sex married couples.
Bay Area Lawyers, Providing Estate Planning Advice to Same Sex Married Couples
Getting married is not the only thing you must do to ensure that assets are appropriately distributed upon the death of one partner. It is also crucial to create a corresponding estate plan.
For assistance with estate planning for same sex married couples, contact a San Francisco attorney at Evans Law Firm, Inc. at 415-441-8669 or 888-50-EVANS or firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a free initial consultation.
LGBT Estate Planning Lawyers Serving Oakland, Alameda, Contra Costa, San Jose, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Marin, San Francisco and Other Communities Throughout California