For decades, same-sex couples fought for equal rights pertaining to the benefits married couples receive. These included such issues as taxes, joint sharing of investments and retirement benefits, inheritance matters and hospital visitation rights. Never in history has the topic of same-sex rights been so prevalent in news and politics than it has during the past few years. In a landmark ruling by the Supreme Court, same-sex marriage became legal across the United States on June 26. Now same-sex couples in Florida, as well as the rest of the country, can enjoy the same financial and legal benefits as other married couples.

The legalization of same-sex marriage will remove much of the worry and headache that same-sex couples experienced in the past. In addition to being allowed to file joint state tax returns, they should also be able to receive full veterans’ benefits and Social Security income. Estate planning should also become less complicated. Prior to the Supreme Court’s ruling, there was nothing to prevent one person from putting his or her partner into a will or trust. However, allowing same-sex couples marital benefits means that they can take advantage of lower inheritance taxes that were previously a benefit that only belonged to heterosexual married couples. It may also protect the interests of a surviving spouse and his or her heirs if an estate goes to probate.

The full effects of this new ruling remain to be seen, especially since state laws may interpret financial planning for same-sex couples differently. A brand-new law that has never been in effect before may take some time before confusion and misunderstandings are worked out. An estate planning attorney may be a good source for same-sex couples to consult with.

Luis E. Barreto