Estate Planning and Tax Issues Surrounding Homosexual Marriage

October 15, 2009 | Roger McEowen

 

The homosexual marriage issue is important to practitioners because of the potential impact any change in the definition of “spouse” would have on various estate planning, inheritance, property ownership and tax concepts and rights to various government benefits.
 
Historically, the definition of “spouse” and, as a result, the definition of marriage has rested on a foundation of tradition, legal precedent, theology, and an overwhelming support of the people.  As a result, any change in the historic definition will most often be judge-made, rather than as a result of an elected body.  Consequently, what constitutes “marriage” will turn on little more than a specific court’s interpretation of rights and result in a very unstable legal environment.  The result is that estate and tax planning, and the associated legal issues become much more complex and unpredictable. 

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