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Same-sex marriage ruling has huge effect on estate planning

For decades, same-sex couples have struggled to string together legal protections that could work for them in times of emergencies. People had to struggle to make sure their partners had some legal rights should they become incapacitated or die. In some states where same-sex marriage was allowed, this was easier than in other states. In states where same-sex marriage was banned,however, gay couples were left with legal uncertainties if their partner fell ill or passed away. Long term planning issues, therefore, were much more complex.

Recently, the United States Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling. In Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples had the right to marry in all 50 states. This case involves a Michigan couple who had married in another state and were fighting to legally adopt their children together.

With this ruling, same-sex couples will receive all of the rights that other married couples have. This includes the right to make medical decisions for their spouse, visit that spouse in a hospital, leave property to that spouse and other similar rights. With the right to marry, estate planning issues should become easier for same-sex couples. If they are married, the couple will be able to avoid excessive inheritance tax, have the legal right to become a person's guardian and collect other government benefits.

These changes can help same-sex couples execute their long term planning goals. With the right help, estate planning will no longer be something to dread but will be a useful tool for all married same-sex couples in Michigan. Estate planning tools can be used to ensure that spouses are taken care of in their time of need.

Source: Forbes, "How The Supreme Court's Gay Marriage Ruling Impacts Estate Planning," Danielle and Andy Mayoras, June 26, 2015

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