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Today, the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) ruled that both opposite-sex and same-sex couples have the fundamental right to marry and recognize the advantages (and disadvantages) of marriage. SCOTUS ruled that states cannot ban same-sex marriage, because it is a violation of the 14th Amendment (the right of all citizens to equal protection). SCOTUS went on to rule that states must recognize marriages performed in other states and countries. Again, not recognizing same sex marriages performed in another state or country is a violation of the 14th amendment.

This means that couples living in states that were once non-recognition states, like Florida, Michigan, and Ohio, can now marry in their home state or anywhere else in the United States that they choose. They will have the same rights and benefits of opposite-sex couples, such as choosing the state in which to marry; adopting their children together; and owning a home as tenants-by-the-entirety (where that is available). Same-sex married couples will now also have the right regardless of what state they live in to make decisions for their hospitalized spouse, file state income tax returns jointly, and receive the same retirement and medical benefits that are allowed for spouses. Same-sex spouses will now be eligible for Family Medical Leave Act for their spouse, and to be treated as a beneficiary under state law.

Of course with rights, come responsibilities. Same-sex married couples will now be subject to the marriage tax penalty, the federal requirement to split retirement assets in half in case of divorce, and be responsible for the long-term care of their spouse (Medicaid eligibility).

The ramifications of today’s ruling will be unfolding over the next few days and weeks in many areas, and we will continue to update you with new facts and rulings. If you have questions about how today’s ruling will affect your business,  you can contact someone in our tax and benefits department.

If you or someone you know is considering getting married in light of today’s ruling, you can call someone in our estate planning group to discuss how marriage will affect your assets and how and to whom they will pass with a valid and updated estate plan.

For more information, please contact one of the attorneys listed below.

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