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July 2013: Confused about DOMA? Not anymore.
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Paige Stanley

About the Law Office of Paige Arden Stanley

The primary focuses of my law practice are in the areas of business law and estate planning.  I not only serve as outside general counsel for small business owners, but I also prepare wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and health care directives. My background in litigation allows me to successfully negotiate and protect my clients' interests. For more information, please visit my firm's website or contact me at ( 404) 386-9950 or paige@stanleylawoffice.com.

A Note From Paige

Summer is finally here! I don't know about you, but I'm definitely ready for the kind of fun the warm weather brings, things like cook-outs with friends and family, lounging by the pool and jaunts to the beach or mountains to escape the heat. What are your favorite things to do during the summer?

Should you need a little extra beach reading while you're out and about, please take a moment to visit my updated website: www.stanleylawoffice.com. The updates and changes were made with clients and friends in mind, so definitely let me know what you think.
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We Now Pronounce You
Husband and Husband
& Wife and Wife
Image Source: http://blogs.lawyers.com/2012/12/supreme-court-to-hear-two-gay-marriage-cases/two-brides-wedding-cake-topper-300-2/
There seems to be a little bit of confusion around what the recent DOMA ruling actually means for citizens. Here’s a quick primer to cover the bases:
  • Already married to the opposite sex? Doesn’t affect you.
  • Planning to get married to the opposite sex? Doesn’t affect you.
  • In a same-sex relationship but not married? Doesn’t affect you.
  • In a same-sex marriage that was performed in a state that legally recognizes same-sex marriages? Your marriage is now federally recognized as well as recognized by your state.
That last bullet is the big change, folks. Before, even if a state recognized the same-sex marriage as legal, the federal government did not. So that meant that same-sex couples were not recognized as “legal” for the sake of taxes, estate planning, federal benefits, the whole nine yards. What many people don’t realize is that the Windsor case wasn’t really about allowing gay people to get married. It was about the federal government recognizing laws passed at the state level. From Windsor v. United States:
 
In 2007, Edith "Edie" Windsor and Thea Spyer, residents of New York, married in Toronto, Ontario, after 40 years of romantic partnership. Spyer died in 2009, at which time New York legally recognized same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions. After Spyer's death, Windsor was required to pay $363,053 in federal estate taxes on her inheritance of her wife's estate. If federal law had accorded their marriage the same status as different-sex marriages recognized by [New York], Windsor would have qualified for an unlimited spousal deduction, and paid no federal estate taxes.
 
Call it a win for gay rights or call it a win for states’ rights, it’s going to have a pretty big impact for those involved, especially when it comes to estate planning. Federal benefits designated for married couples now apply to all citizens, gay as well as straight. The highlights include:
  • Filing joint tax returns
  • Claiming marital deductions for gift and estate tax purposes
  • Naming a spouse as a beneficiary for retirement accounts and allowing the spouse the roll over into his/her own account
  • Electing portability of a deceased spouse’s unused exclusion amount
  • Simplifying the basis and contribution rules for jointly owned property
  • Splitting inter-vivos gifts
  • Eliminating adverse tax consequences for the transfer of marriage property pursuant to a marriage settlement agreement
  • Granting certain social security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits
So now you know the basics. But what does this mean for you? If you are part of a same-sex married couple whose ceremony was performed in a state that legally recognizes your marriage, it means you have some new federal paperwork to fill out! Even if you live in a state that does not recognize your marriage, the federal government now does, but that doesn’t mean it will be an easy row to hoe. I recommend that you reach out to an estate planning professional who can help you get your affairs in order. I’m happy to answer any questions you may have about this landmark ruling, so feel free to call or email me. Congratulations to the new (according to the federal government) couples, we raise our glasses to you!      
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Items in this Newsletter may be excerpts or summaries of original or secondary source material, and may have been reorganized for clarity and brevity. This Newsletter is general in nature and is not intended to provide specific legal or other advice.
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