Colorado Probate Blog - Wade Ash Woods Hill & Farley, P.C.

U.S. Supreme Court Declines to Hear Same Sex Marriage Appeals

On Monday the U.S. Supreme Court let stand appeals court rulings from five states which legalize same sex marriage.  This clears the way for same sex marriages in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin.  The Court gave no explanation for its decision not to hear those cases.  This non-action lets stand decisions from three federal appeals courts, which together have jurisdiction over additional states of Colorado, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming.  This brings the number of states with legal same sex marriage to 30.  Colorado’s Attorney General, John Suthers, stated county clerks will now issue same sex marriage licenses in every county.  It is unknown what will happen to Colorado civil unions, and the state’s civil union statutes.  For some clients, the legalization of same sex marriage will impact tax related estate planning, and you should review your current estate plan if you believe this change will impact you. And if this change in Colorado’s law signals wedding bells, be sure to contact us to discuss whether preparation of a prenuptial agreement is right for you. For more information, see Denver Post.

  1441 Hits
1441 Hits

U.S. Supreme Court Finds Federal DOMA Unconstitutional

By Laurie A. Hunter, Esq.

On June 26, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, determined that the federal DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) that prohibited recognition of a valid same-sex marriage under state law was unconstitutional. U.S. v. Windsor. In this case, the surviving spouse of a valid same-sex marriage filed a U.S. Estate Tax Return, claiming the marital deduction for assets passing to her. The marital deduction was denied by the IRS, and tax assessed. This decision makes clear that for a valid marriage under state law, the federal government cannot deny benefits to a spouse.

What this decision does not do: It did not address the validity of a state’s "DOMA" laws, which Colorado has passed, in which a state refuses to recognize the validity of a same-sex marriage that is valid under another state’s law. This may be the next case that reaches a court. It also does not address civil unions, that are specifically not marriage. In Colorado’s new Civil Union statute, a valid same-sex marriage in another state automatically converts to a civil union in Colorado. Therefore, it may be that couples married in a state where same-sex marriage is valid, would still not be entitled to spousal benefits in Colorado, but they could be entitled to federal spousal benefits. The effect is unclear at this point.

  1081 Hits
1081 Hits