Saturday, August 17, 2013
Samuel H. Grier (Attorney, King & Spalding LLP) & Tad D. Ransopher (Director of the Masters of Taxation Program, Georgia State University) recently published an article entitled, Tax Compliance and Estate Planning for Same-Sex Couples, 5 Est. Plan. & Cmty. Prop. L.J. 323 (Summer 2013). Provided below is a portion of their introduction:
Changes in American culture have led to an increased number of people engaging in open same-sex relationships. This leads to an increase in the number of same-sex couples living as a domestic unit who will be coming to tax practitioners for help with compliance and tax planning. With the baby-boom generation reaching retirement age, an increase in the number of devoted same-sex couples who seek to create an effective estate plan exists. Attorneys and tax professionals involved in this process need to be aware of the challenges involved.
This article is organized into two sections and is intended to be a practical discussion that will explore the challenges that same-sex couples will face in these areas. The first section explores the provisions of the I.R.C. that affect same-sex couples as they prepare their tax returns and compute their correct income tax liability each year. The topics discussed below are also useful in advising couples as to the best way to structure their personal financial affairs and other transactions to take advantage of the tax laws that will affect them. The second part of this article discusses the many challenges that same-sex couples face in creating an estate plan and discusses the tools that the estate planning attorney can use to effectively facilitate the transfer of property between the same-sex partners after death. Tax planning, which is essential to any successful estate plan, is also addressed because the unmarried status of most same-sex couples poses unique challenges to the creation of such a plan. Some of the traditional estate and tax planning methods may still be used to carry out the intent of the partners; some modification, however, may be necessary to give that intent legal effect.