DOMA Held Unconstitutional and California Proposition 8 Dismissed

With the fall of California’s Proposition 8, same-sex couples in California are now free to marry. This resounding victory, coupled with the Supreme Court of the United States’ determination that certain provisions of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) are unconstitutional, means that all married couples, regardless of sexual orientation, are treated equally under state and federal law.

These decisions also bring changes to how same-sex married couples should plan for the future.

For example, all same-sex married couples here in California (and in the other states that recognize same-sex marriage) are now entitled to certain estate and gift tax exemptions they did not previously enjoy. This means that a person’s estate can transfer tax-free to his or her spouse upon that person’s death, and a person can transfer an unlimited amount of his or her assets to his or her spouse without paying gift taxes for such transfers. It is important for same-sex married couples to consider updating their estate plans to ensure that they fully benefit from these exemptions.

Also, all same-sex married couples are now subject to the spousal rules and limitations for Medicaid (referred to as Medi-Cal in California) and Veterans Benefits, which can be a blessing or a curse depending upon the couple’s assets and income.

[Disclaimer: The materials contained on this website have been authored or gathered by the Law Offices of Stuart D. Zimring, and are intended for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be and is not considered to be legal advice. Transmission is not intended to create and receipt does not establish an attorney-client relationship.]