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Estate Planning for Same-Sex Couples Archives

Estate Planning for Same-Sex Couples in Pennsylvania

Estate planning for same-sex couples in Pennsylvania continues to be extremely important to protect your partner and your legacy.  United States vs. Windsor, the landmark Supreme Court Case which landed a strong blow against the Defense of Marriage Act, was based on the unfair treatment of homosexual couples under the federal estate tax laws. So what happens in Pennsylvania where same-sex marriage is not yet legal? In Pennsylvania, heterosexual married couples and same-sex couples are treated very differently. For example, the Informal Health Care Decision Making Act allows spouses to make health care decisions for each other without any formal paperwork. Same-sex couples, since they are not legally married, are not entitled to the same privilege. Under Pennsylvania inheritance tax laws, married heterosexual spouses receive all property from a deceased spouse free of inheritance tax. Conversely, same-sex couples who are not married will be taxed at a 15% rate. If a man married to a woman dies without a will, his property will pass to her automatically. However, life partners in same-sex relationships are not entitled to any property from their deceased partner's estate. It is clear that Pennsylvania law has some catching up to do. While we wait on the law makers to make changes, how can same-sex couples plan their estates?