ESTATE TAX PLANNING
Same-sex married couples who were legally married in one of the states or jurisdictions that recognize their marriage will be granted the same federal estate and gift tax benefits as their heterosexual counterparts.
UNLIMITED MARITAL EXEMPTION: Now that same-sex marriages are recognized for federal tax purposes, the unlimited exemption will pass on to the surviving spouse and basically can be used to double the value of an estate that is protected from federal tax.
GIFTS: Gay and lesbian married couples now face no limits, annual or lifetime, on gifts or transfers of property to their spouses.
GIFT SPLITTING:Gay and lesbian married couples are now allowed the advantage of gift splitting. If one spouse wanted to make a gift to someone up to $14,000 this year, the couple could double that by having the other spouse join in the gift. The amount given is considered as made one-half by each spouse.
IMPORTANT RULINGS IMPACTING SAME-SEX COUPLES
IRS Revenue Ruling 2013-17:
On August 29, 2013, the US Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service issued Revenue Ruling 2013-17 holding that, for purposes of administering all federal tax laws including those pertaining to income, gift and estate taxes, married same-sex couples that were lawfully married in any jurisdiction (domestic or international) will be treated as married regardless of whether the jurisdictions in which such couples are resident and/or domiciled recognize the marriage. However, neither the Treasury nor the IRS will recognize as married those unmarried same-sex couples that are in so-called "marriage equivalent" legal relationships, e.g., civil unions, registered domestic partnerships and domestic partnerships.The ruling provides access to benefits, responsibilities and protections under federal tax law. The ruling additionally assures legally married same-sex couples that they can move freely throughout the country knowing that their federal filing status will not change.
As a result, married same-sex couples will be required to file their federal income tax returns with a "married filing jointly" or "married filing separately" filing status. In addition, same-sex couples who were married in prior years may, but are not required to, file original or amended tax returns within the statutory limitations period (three years from the date the tax return was originally due or filed or two years from the date the tax was paid, whichever is later).
When updating your estate planning documents it is important to include your spouse and/or partner into your:
(i) Last Will & Testament - as Personal Representative and Beneficiary;
(ii) Revocable Trust - as a Co-Trustee or Successor Trustee and Beneficiary;
(iii) Power of Attorney - as your Agent for financial matters;
(iv) Health Care Surrogate - as your designate for health care decisions;
(v) Living Will - end of life decisions; and
(vi) Pre-Need Guardian Designation - as your nominated guardian.
SAME SEX ESTATE PLANNING IN SARASOTA & MANATEE
Most Gay and Lesbian couples living in Sarasota and Manatee County Florida are familiar with the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the case of United States v. Windsorin 2012. As a result of the ruling, every gay & lesbian couple should: (i) Review and revise their estate planning documents to take advantage of the unlimited marital deduction under federal gift tax and estate tax laws; (ii) Review and revise retirement account beneficiary designations and joint and survivor annuity elections; (iii) Consider replacing individual life insurance policies with survivor policies to optimize death benefits; (iv) Consider utilizing split gifts between spouses to maximize each spouse's applicable exclusion amount; and (v) Amend previously filed federal estate, gift and income tax returns..