Same-Sex Couples in Florida Could Still Face Estate Planning Complications
Same-sex couples in Florida rejoiced in January when the state became the 36th in the nation to recognize same-sex marriage. Now, they can enjoy a lot of the estate planning and tax benefits that are available to heterosexual couples. However, there are still a few state and federal laws that could make some elements of estate planning challenging for same-sex couples.
The biggest complication is the prevalence of “snowbirds” in Florida. Many people live in Florida only part of the year, making their residence in other states during the spring and summer. If the other state where they live does not recognize same-sex marriage, it could be harder to transfer property of a deceased spouse into one’s name. Certain health care and end-of-life decisions could also be affected.
Federal benefits are another issue that same-sex couples must navigate. Although the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act two years ago, federal agencies still have some flexibility in terms of how they interpret that decision. Therefore, couples that live in multiple states may have challenges to overcome if an agency chooses not to recognize their marriage because they spend part of each year in a state that does not yet recognize same-sex marriage.
This could all become irrelevant in a few months, as the Supreme Court is expected to review the constitutionality of same-sex marriage within the coming months, which could lead to a federal decision on the matter. But for now, same-sex couples who face these complications are encouraged to seek legal guidance.
Contact the Florida estate planning attorneys with the Charles Law Offices for more information on how you can overcome these challenges.