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New Estate Planning Guidelines for LGBT Couples

  • By: Christopher Benson
  • Published: March 10, 2014

This year, 2014, is the first year the federal government will recognize same-sex marriages for tax purposes. With state laws changing, being challenged and being initiated all over the country, it can be hard to keep up with the best advice. Here are the top suggested tips for LGBT couples, no matter where you live.

Now that the rules have changed, couples in a registered domestic partnership or civil union should consider getting married, which will allow you to adjust your tax withholding, and give you access to numerous other benefits. In Washington State, if you are at least 18 years old, but not older than 62 years old, and have a current state-registered domestic partnership, your relationship will be converted to being married as of June 30, 2014.

Make the most of your money by checking these areas:

  1. Non-taxable benefits. Your employer may offer benefits such as health insurance and life insurance. You can also amend tax returns to include taxable income that was used to purchase these out-of-pocket in the past. You can also update your W4 to adjust your withholding to the lower married level.
  2. Retirement accounts. Check designations on your 401k and IRA accounts. Making changes could save your spouse from paying additional estate taxes and increase the payout.  
  3. Estate taxes. If your spouse recently died and you had to pay estate taxes that would not have been collected had you been married, you may be able to file a claim for a refund.
  4. Gifts. Marriage affords the benefits of transferring assets or gifts to your spouse tax-free.
  5. Estate planning. Whether or not you make changes to your estate plan will depend on the laws in your state, but if your state recognizes same-sex marriages, create a marital trust, Qualified Terminable Interest Property Trust, or disclaimer trust for your spouse. Change your will to reflect the creation of these assets.

For more detailed information concerning Domestic Registered Partnerships in Washington being converted to marriage, click this link.

Over the past 27 years, the Law Offices of Christopher A. Benson has helped more than 800 clients prepare and utilize simple and effective planning techniques to protect them and their families in order to avoid probate, save estate taxes, save money and save added emotional burden that comes from long term illness and/or death of a family member. Give us a call to schedule a free consultation to find out how we can help you and your family.

Christopher Benson

About the Author Chris served on the Board of Directors for Habitat for Humanity
Seattle/S. King County for 10 years and served as Vice President
of the organization during part of that time. Read More