PA Governor Tom Corbett

PA Governor Tom Corbett

Same-sex marriage has come to Pennsylvania due to this week’s court ruling and Governor Corbett’s decision not to appeal the ruling.

This new development has wide-spread implications for estate planning and elder law, affecting such things as who can make health-care decisions for an incapacitated person, how much money a same-sex spouse can protect when applying for Medicaid, who will inherit from the estate of someone who died without a will, and many other issues.

In this post, let me take feature just one issue: Pennsylvania inheritance tax. Imagine two women named Pamela and Julia are a couple in a committed relationship. Julia has a taxable estate worth $500,000. Before the ruling, if Julia were to die and leave her entire estate to Pamela, her “friend” for tax purposes, Pennsylvania would have imposed a 15% inheritance tax. After the ruling, if the couple marry and Julia leaves her estate to her “spouse,” the tax rate is 0%.

Inheritance tax savings by being allowed to marry: $75,000.

In addition to all the intangible benefits that accompany the institution of marriage, same-sex couples can now enjoy a number of practical, money-saving advantages available to married couples in Pennsylvania.

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